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  • Choosing an Equestrian Sports Bra

    CHOOSING A GOOD EQUESTRIAN SPORTS BRA
     
    One of the best investments in comfort and looks for any female rider is a well-fitting, supportive sports bra.
     
    WHY?
    With every step your horse takes, shock waves travel through your horse, to you.  Also, your horse's impulsion, forward and up is also transferred through you... you, in essence, become an extension of your horse.
     
    Most places in your body, the effects of all of this can be reduced by you with conscious effort using your muscles and ligaments.  Your breasts, however have no anatomical means of limiting the effects of the pounding and the momentum.  So, they bounce.
     
    BOUNCE
    Bounce can cause permanent tissue damage and can be painful and distracting.   In most areas of equitation, stillness through control is a goal.   Therefore, from a personal and a sport-related point of view, stilling the bounce is the objective of most women riders. 
     
    Bounce is greatly decreased by the use of a well-fitting sports bra designed for high impact sports.  This should be considered as an essential part of your riding wardrobe.
     
    HIGH IMPACT SPORTS BRA
    Riding is a high impact sport.   Therefore, when choosing a bra for riding, discount sports bras that are indicated for Low or Medium Impact sports.  They just won't give you enough support to eliminate the bounce - even if you have a small bra size.   Lingerie/Fashion bras, equally, won't do the job for you.  
     
    WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GOOD EQUESTRIAN SPORTS BRA?
    A good sports bra suitable for riding provides superior breast support, comfort, breathability and moisture control.
    Support  
    A good sport bra minimizes breast movement in one of two ways: By compression, where the breasts are held against the chest wall to limit motion; or encapsulation, in which the bra is engineered to surround and support the breasts. Sometimes one bra uses both techniques .
     
    If you're a small- or medium-breasted woman (A to C cup), a compression style bra will offer support and comfort. Or if you prefer, you can choose a bra that offers encapsulation for shaping as well as support.
    If you're a larger-breasted woman (C to DD cup) you may find encapsulating styles that separate and support your breasts more comfortable and more supportive than compression bras. For maximum support, choose a sport bra that does both.
     
    Comfort
    A good riding sports bra should feel comfortable on, stay in place, and not chafe. The straps shouldn't dig into the shoulders nor should they fall off the shoulders as you rider.  Nothing is more distracting than having your bra strap slip while you are riding up to a fence!  The band around the lower chest shouldn't shift up or bind. Proportions and contours should be designed for the freedom of movement that you need while riding without binding, twisting or chafing. Soft, plush threads will minimize skin irritation.
    Moisture Control and Breathability
    Riding is a strenuous sport, and not matter what the weather, you will likely perspire while you ride.  A good equestrian sports bra will wick sweat away from your skin and then dry quickly, and it will be breathable, allowing perspiration and excess heat to pass through. A good sport bra will keep you cooler and drier when it's hot, and drier and warmer when it's cold.
     
    Good looks too!
    An added bonus not mentioned on the label of most sports bras is the impovement in the overall look of the garments worn over the bra!  You will find that


  • Boots, Boots, Boots - Which to Choose?!

    What Boots do I Choose?!


    As equestrians, riding boots are one of our most key pieces of equipment.  They have both a functional and style component.  Functionally, boots keep us safe and comfortable both on in the saddle and on the ground.  Heels keep our feet from slipping through stirrups; shanks give us foot stability when we only have a small portion of our foot supported by stirrup treads;  snug laces give us ankle support, and leather calves (whether from tall boots or chaps) keep us from getting rubs from stirrup leathers. 

    From a fashion or style perspective, boots can be a signpost for what discipline we ride, and even our personal fashion sense.  Think riding boots are all tradition?  Wrong!  While they are based in years and years of traditional equestrian attire, you can now flaunt a bit of personal style in your selection of boots. 

    First the Basics:


    There are, roughly speaking, three general types of English equestrian boots:  Dress Boots, Field Boots, and Paddock Boots.    

    Dress and Dressage Boots:

    Dress Boots are what many people think of when they imagine traditional English tall boots. The are generally black, come up to just at the knee, and have a slightly higher outer top than inner top (this is referred to has a "Spanish Top").   Years ago, Dress Boots tended to be the same height all around.  The Spanish Top has become the norm to the point that a boot without it would appear quite old fashioned to most people.

    Dressage Boots are a form of Dress Boot.  The Dressage boot is built slanted more forward than the Dress boot and has stiffened side panels. The back of the boot is generally stiffened. This stiffening nearly eliminates the amount of “drop” the boot will have at the ankle.  This all facilitates the longer leg position, and more formal form we see in Dressage. 

    Field Boots:

    Field Boots look much like a Dress Boot, but with one significant difference.  A Field Boot has a laced ankle built into the front of the boot. This enables the rider to adjust the ankle fit, and also makes the boot more flexible in the ankle area.  This allows for the shorter stirrup, and more flexed ankle position that is required when jumping fences.  Not surprisingly, Field Boots are the preferred boots for most riders who jump.  Additionally, Field Boots traditionally have a "toe cap," a decorative seam across the front of the foot.  

    Paddock Boots:


    Paddock Boots are short equestrian boots- originally named for wearing around the "paddock" rather than in the dressage court or hunt field.  In recent years, these easy wearing boots that come just above the ankle have become the daily boot of choice for many English equestrians.  Available in lace, zipper, and pull on versions, these boots function like a tall boot when combined with chaps or half chaps. 

    Once, paddock boots were strictly schooling boots, never to worn in the show ring, or even to lessons, or clinics.  Increasingly, however, the quality of paddock boots and half chaps has increased.  It is now very possible to get a high quality paddock/half chap combination that looks virtually indistinguishable from a tall boot in the show ring.


    Which Should I Choose?


    If you are planning to show, you'll want to consult your discipline's rules.  Here is a general guide, but remember, rules change and different regions have different norms.  ALWAYS check with your ruling body before you purchase show attire!

    HUNTER/JUMPER 

    Field Boots are traditionally used for schooling and competition by the Hunter/Jumper rider, however the USEF Rules does not specify footwear other than "boots."  We strongly suggest you attend some shows and see what is the norm for your region!

    DRESSAGE 

    The USEF Rule book specifies that "boots or jodhpur boots" be used from Training Level through 4th Level. Half Chaps are ONLY allowed through first level.  Above 4th Level, tall black boots are required.   In practice, Dressage riders generally wear tall Dress boots or Dressage Boots.   Standard Dress boots are seen at the lower levels, and the Dressage boots with a stiffened back are seen at higher levels.  Increasingly, formal Dressage Boots are being seen at lower and lower levels.
     

    FOX HUNTING

    The formal requirement is usually for “high black boots”. You will probably see a fairly equal split between Field and Dress boots.  It is always advisable to check on individual hunts regulations before you ride with a hunt.

    EVENTING 

    From the USEF Rules vs. what is generally seen:
     

    DRESSAGE TEST

     a. Tests and Horse Trials (Beginner Novice through Preliminary)
    Boots—black, brown, field, jodhpur or a black or brown full grain smooth leather leg piece and matching leather boots. Chaps and/or half-chaps are not allowed.
     
    Dress boots are seen at the higher levels and Field at lower levels.
    b. Horse Trials (Intermediate and Advanced)—Two Day & Three Day Events. Boots—preferably black dress or a black full grain leather leg piece and matching leather boot. Chaps and half-chaps are not allowed.

    Black Dress boots are the most commonly seen and at the Advanced levels, the more formal European-style dress boots with stiffened back stays will be seen.
     

    CROSS-COUNTRY TEST 

    Boots—black, brown, field, Jodhpur or a black or brown full grain smooth leather leg piece and matching leather boots. Chaps or half-chaps are not allowed.

    You will predominantly see black Field boots out on the Cross-Country course.


  • Riding Helmets & Safety Equipment

    How Do I Choose a Riding Helmet? 

     
    Riding helmets and safety gear are important parts of the equestrian's wardrobe. Riding hats come in a wide variety of styles from lightweight, schooling helmets to traditional show helmets.

    When you are purchasing a riding hat, there are several things you need to consider. Fit is an important factor in choosing your ideal hat. You also need to consider where you are using the riding helmet and how best to preserve your most expensive equestrian equipment. For example, you should consider having a schooling helmet and a showing helmet in order to prolong the lifespan of more expensive competition riding hats.

    Styles of riding helmets have changed a good deal over the years. European innovation has opened the door for a wider variety of options in the hunter/jumper and eventing scene. LAS riding hats work to provide a European look at a great price. The AYR8, from legendary riding hat maker Charles Owen, is a versatile cross discipline competition hat that fits a wide variety of heads and has a contemporary look without losing its traditional roots.

    Troxel Riding Helmets are a favorite for its highly vented schooling hats that now come in a variety of styles to keep you comfortable in the ring or on the trail. Western helmets are also popular through Troxel and come in a variety of colors. Troxel also offers a number of innovative equestrian accessories to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

    Riding helmets are for your safety, so you need to make sure you are taking good care of your helmet and that you replace it if anything should happen to it. For instance, it’s important to replace your helmet after any impact, such as a fall or dropping your hat from a height of more than a few feet. A riding helmet protects your head by absorbing the impact of a fall, and even if the riding hat does not appear to be damaged, it can be compromised. In the event of a true fall, the compromised area of the riding helmet can fail, leaving you at risk for injury.

    What Other Safety Equipment is Available for Riders?

     
    A discussion of equestrian safety equipment would not be complete without a discussion of riding body protectors. Body protectors are a critical part of many riders’ equipment. They provide important protection and are required for competitive Eventers. Like riding helmets, they are designed to absorb high amounts of energy on impact and greatly reduce injury to the body. Charles Owen is an industry leader that offers many different components of the body protector that work as a unit for a high level of protection. These body protectors are also rated Beta Level 3 as well ASTM certified. As an alternate, Woof Wear and Lami-Cell also offer an ASTM certified body protector.

    Browse all of our riding hats and safety equipment here at Equestrian Collections. You’ll find the right level of protection and a variety of styles and fits from which to choose.


  • Tips for Choosing a Winter Jacket

    Horse Riding Winter Jackets Buying Guide


    Whether heading out to on a winter trail ride, taking part in a winter riding lesson, or just going to muck out the stalls, make sure your riding jacket is up to date.

    Modern materials, designs, and features have rendered the jackets of yesteryear obsolete. Today's riding jackets are made for our equestrian sport - they breathe better, stay drier and warmer, and are lighter in weight. They are also loaded with features to give you the most convenient and comfortable fit while supporting you in any type of equestrian activity. Most also look good enough that you can wear them from barn on to your busy day.

    Choose your jacket based on the kinds of activities you engage in, and the weather in your area of the country. 

    Heavy Jackets and Parkas

    For hours out of doors in really frigid temperatures, you'll need a Heavy Jacket or Parka. These "super duty" coats are designed to keep you warm and dry down to sub-zero temperatures.  Many of these parkas are "Layer Systems" which allow you to add or remove layers depending upon the weather. 

    The base layer, also known as the wick layer , is the layer of clothing that is in direct contact with your skin. A common problem with cold-weather riding is chill after you stop!  Some characteristics to look for in the base layer material of your riding coat:

    Absorption: Only absorbs a small percentage of water--less than 1% is preferable.
    Fibers: The fibers of winter riding jacket our should be lightweight and durable.
    Odor-Blocking: Should be treated to decrease smell and itch due to body odor and general horsey smells!


    The insulating layer of your winter riding jacket should retain body heat, and the best way to do this is to create a layer of still air around the body to decreases the heat exchange between your body and the outside. This layer is often made up of polyesters that are treated to make the fibers stand up and trap air, forming the protective layer of still air for the main insulation. Materials should have the same moisture-wicking properties as the base layer and should prevent heat loss. Popular options are:

    Fleece : A dense knit of polyester fabric is taken and passed through a napping machine. One side of the fabric has a tight solid weave, while the other has a fluffy, air retaining surface.
    Double sided Fleece : A fleece that is napped on both sides, creating a tight, solid weave.
    Pile : A single-sided fleece fabric that has undergone more napping, creating a thicker open fabric.
    Down: Of course, the classic for lightweight warmth is goose down. Equestrian Collections has a large selection of Down Jackets.  Just remember, don't get down wet! 

    The third and final layer of a heavy duty parka, must be waterproof , windproof and get rid of body moisture. It must also protect from chaffing , cuts , scrapes and other outside damage common when you ride your horse.  

    Medium Weight Jackets: 

    Of course, most equestrians don't ride daily in sub zero temps and snow! What most of us need is a good Medium Weight Jacket.  These work horses of outerwear will be your go-to jackets for most winter riding.  Some depend on soft shell bonded fabric which is wind resistant on the outside and soft fleece on the inside.  Others use traditional equestrian quilting to add lightweight insulation.  Many medium weight jackets have removable sleeves, so that you can use them as a vest or a jacket.  This makes them even more versatile. 

    Light Weight Jackets:

    Are you one of those lucky equestrians on the South Western Coast, or South East that never really have cold days?  For you we have Light Weight Jackets!  Generally fitted, with light insulation, and flexible "rider friendly" features.  These light coats are ideal for anyone between seasons, or to cut the chill on a cloudy day. Light weight jackets include wind breakers and light weight fleece jackets.  Every equestrian should have a light weight jacket in their wardrobe... and probably in their car, just in case the weather cools off unexpectedly!
     

    Features to Look for in an Equestrian Jacket of any Weight:

    Seams: Check the seams of the winter riding jacket. This is the first place water is likely to seep through. Look for a riding coat with as few seams as possible and avoid seams in vulnerable places like the shoulders and upper back.


    Zippers:  Look for zippers that are well-shielded and coated with plastic to resist humidity and rusting. On premium brands of winter equestrian outerwear like Mountain Horse, Ariat, Kerrits and Irideon, many of the zippers are completely waterproof.


    Radial and Articulated sleeves eliminate the restrictions and tugging that occurs in the shoulders of a normal jacket or parka by using a different construction of the shoulder, armhole and underarm panels. Radial sleeves also promote easier movement - particularly important for when you are riding over fences, bringing horses in, grooming and so forth.


    Zip off hoods help to control body temperature, visibility and comfort. Most of your body heat while riding is lost through your head. So, ride in a riding helmet and chose one of  the equestrian jackets have hoods that fit over your helmet for added protection as you ride.



  • Choosing Schooling Breeches

    TIPS FOR CHOOSING YOUR SCHOOLING BREECH

    Schooling breeches are ones that because of style or color could not be worn in the show ring. Other than that, they often share many of the features of the Competition breech.

    Schooling breeches now come in more styles, fabrics and colors than ever before - so how to choose?

    The breeches that you choose for schooling should be chosen with a number of factors in mind:

    FUNCTION
    What kind of riding are you going to be using these breeches for? If you are a dressage or event rider, then consider choosing a full seat breech. If you are a hunter/jumper rider, then a knee-patch breech would be more appropriate. Some schooling breeches come with an intermediate sized patch that is extra long - great for if you put heavy wear and tear on your breeches, or if you would like a little more traction that a knee patch might give you.

    STYLE
    Schooling breeches come in a variety of styles that can be chosen to best suit your figure and your budget!

    Pull-On Tights are available in full seat or knee patch styles and are usually the least expensive and come with a comfortable elastic or elastic/drawstring waistband. Many do not have belt loops, some come with belt loops as an optional extra, and a growing number now come standard with belt loops - and even a faux fly, giving the fully featured breech look at the lowest possible price.

    Front-Zip breeches have the Classic look and invariably come with belt loops and often a change pocket.

    Boot Cut Riding Breeches are becoming increasingly popular for their easy wear style that is both comfortable and blends well if you do need to run errands after going to the barn. Another popular style is the Jean Breech, which is styled like your favorite pair of jeans, with the added benefit of no inside seams and knee patches or full seats.   

    REGULAR RISE OR LOW RISE?
    All a matter of how you look! The Low-Rise style has continued to be the most popular breech style, long after everyone thought that the trend would go away! We have seen some nice modifications, however, with designers opting for a low front, with a higher back - that helps keep shirts tucked in and avoid any glimpses of underwear! You might also see a hybrid breech that fits right below where the waistband of the regular rise breech ends. This modified low-rise is often chosen by the more mature rider who wants a very current look without the challenges of some of the more extreme low rises.

    The regular rise does still have a lot of fans - especially when worn with a shiny or sparkly belt to set off a small waist. For the plus sizes, either the regular rise or the modified low rise work well.

    FABRIC
    Fabric choices will be influenced by budget and climate. The standard cotton/lycra breech is a perennial favorite - low tech, often low price point - most riders will have at least one pair in their riding wardrobe. They do come in a multitude of colors, but over time colors can fade. Cotton absorbs moisture, so although it is a "natural" material, it will get damp with perspiration.

    For riding in the heat, when you want moisture to wick away from your skin so that you stay cooler and dryer, then choose a microfiber or a microfiber with a DriLex or CoolMax lining. Some even come with an antibacterial element to keep you fresher too. Microfiber breeches are a little more pricey, but colors will stay true, the breeches will maintain their shape better and you really will be more comfortable.

    For riding in the cold, choose one of the many thermal, polar fleece schooling breeches. Some come with a Wind Guard element and are virtually waterproof. Most will wick away the moisture from your skin, leaving you dryer and consequently warmer before, during and after riding.


  • Gifts for Your Trainer

    Here are some gift ideas for the people who work hard everyday to take care of you and your horses.  

    Holiday Ornaments & Holiday Decorations:

    A lovely selection of holiday ornaments from Breyer and other vendors!  A great, affordable gift idea for any one one of your barn friends. You can even get a stocking for your horses! For an entire selection of holiday themed items, check out The Gift Shop.

    Equestrian Luggage:

    RJ Classics has produced a wonderful line of equestrian luggage, including matching duffle, tote, helmet, garment, bridle, and boot bags.  Each piece would make a wonderful gift for the a trainer, groom, or barn manager who travels to horse shows and takes care of you and your horse. Consider coming together as a group and purchasing a matching set!

    For something a little more versatile, we also have an incredible selection of gorgeous Equestrian Handbags & Totes!

    The Gift of Warmth!

    Give your trainer or barn manager the gift of warmth this holiday season with active heating products from Techniche International!  Air Activated Heated vests, gloves, ear bands, hats, scarves and more! Pick up an extra set of HeatPax to keep them warm all winter long. For the ultimate stay warm gift, get the IonGear Battery Powered Heat Vest!

     Equestrian Jewelry:

    We have a huge selection of Equestrian Jewelry, including a wonderful range for under $50! Find the perfect gift for that special horse person in your life without breaking the bank.

    So, what if you are trainer, looking for gifts for your students? We know you are probably on a budget, and LOTS of students to buy for, so check out Equestrian Jewelry Less than $25. Or perhaps Socks or Grooming Supplies for low cost gift ideas!

    Equestrian Gift Wrap & Greeting Cards:

    Find the perfect holiday gift for those special horse people in your life and wrap it up with equestrian gift wrap & ribbon for that perfect final touch. Don't forget to include a horsey greeting card to write your personal message letting them know how truly special they are!


  • Fall Fashion Season!

    It’s Fall Fashion Season!!

     

    We love fall fashion at Equestrian Collections! There is so much cross-over between street wear and equestrian wear in the fall.  This is the season we see the most “Fashion-forward” attire.  This year we are seeing lots of rich fabrics and unexpected patterns. Of course, there are always the fall plaids, but we’ve got stripes and animal prints this year as well.  

    Here are some of our Favorite new Fall 2012 Fashion items:

    Boots: While boots are always a part of equestrian attire, they take on special significance in the fall. In addition to riding in them, we are dealing with wet and cold weather as well. EC has some super new wet weather boots coming in. Always fashion forward, däv has re-designed their signature rain boots, with improved sizing and new colors and patterns. Their däv Equestrian Bit Rain Boots really blur the line between fashion and the barn! Want some winter warmth, but don’t need a heavy duty winter boot? Check out the Goode Rider Fur Rubber Wellies.  

    Vests: Vests are perfect for Fall! They add just the right amount of warmth without being too hot or restricting. For a stylish fashion vest, we like the Goode Rider Vintage Vest. If you want something a bit more performance focused, try the Kerrits Oh-So-Lux Vest.   Are you a Fox Hunter? RJ Classics has a beautiful new Tattersall Cubbing Vest.

    Hats: When the leaves start to turn, you may need some headgear other than your helmet. Jockey style caps are really in this year. In fact, the Kerrits Knit Cap looks like it was taken straight from the fashion magazines.   If you want to get a little edgy, the Horseware Newmarket Leopard Fleece is a trendy animal print choice.   And you don’t have to sacrifice fashion for warmth either! What could be more fun than the Mountain Horse Calgary Hat – fashion model meets lumber jack!

    Shirts and Sweaters: So do you want technical attire, or traditional? We’ve got both! For technical apparel, the FITS Half Zip is perfect – soft, chafe free and flattering. If you like patterns, the Kerrits Horseplay Zip Neck is for you. Prefer more traditional items that you can use as street wear?  The Goode Rider Comfy Cable, and the Lucinda Green Isleham Knit would look just as comfortable on a college campus as they do at the barn.

    Jeans and Hoodies – So fashion aside, what do we all REALLY wear in the fall? Denim jeans and hoodies of course! Goode Rider has always had some of the best denim breeches around. This year they are introducing a true jean… if you love the way your Goode Riders fit, you’ll love their Haute Jeans.   And what are jeans without a hoodie? Every year Stirrups comes up with a new crop of logo hoodies. There are some great ones! They’ve jumped on the British bandwagon with “Keep Calm and Ride,” or how about the classic “Life is Simpler at the Barn.”

    Jackets - It wouldn't be a fall season without a great medium weight jacket. FITS is introducing their Turnout Jacket.  The plaid may be traditional, but the materials are all tech!  Prefer herringbone to plaid?  Check out the gorgeous wool Pea Coat from Goode Rider. It's  a classic you will wear forever.  If you want to forgo the classics entirely, take a walk on the wild side with the Leopard Camille Jacket from Horseware.
     
    And the best part is?  This is just the beginning!  Keep checking back, we'll be getting new fall fashion items for the next two months or so. There will be new items nearly everyday.  Next time, we'll look at what's new for your horse for fall.

      


  • Getting Started: Equipment for Beginners

    Getting Started: Basic Equipment for Beginning Kids


    Today I taught two sisters, ages 5 and 7, their second riding lesson. At the end of the lesson their mother asked, “What equipment do my kids need to continue riding?” They had come to their first two lessons wearing jeans and sneakers, and I provided each child with a well fitting, approved helmet from my collection. I have created a list to give their mother. If they can purchase everything right away, that is great. If they need to spread the purchases out over a few months, especially with two girls to buy for, I made the list in order of importance.

    As an instructor, I understand that riding is an expensive sport and parents may be unable to purchase all the necessary equipment before starting the first lesson.  This is especially true if you are not sure your child will continue riding.   If you cannot afford to purchase everything at the same time, here is my advice.  Buy a helmet first.  Then, once you know your child wants to continue, start saving for the paddock boots.  Until that time, have your child wear a pair of shoes that come above the ankle and have at least a small heel.  Hiking shoes, fashion boots, rain boots, or a pair of cheap cowboy boots are some examples.  I would say that once your child begins to posting trot, they need proper paddock boots to continue.  Remember, paddock boots start at $26.95, so don’t spend more than that if you are buying something to use until you can afford boots. After Paddock Boots are purchased, start thinking about a pair of riding pants.

    Helmet: 

    Your child should NEVER mount a horse or pony without an approved riding helmet.  Before the first riding lesson, ask the instructor if your child will be able to borrow an approved helmet. If not, you need to purchase one right away.  The good news is, you don’t have to spend a fortune!  If the instructor tries to tell you that a helmet is not necessary, I suggest you find a new instructor!

    What to look for in a helmet:

    • ASTM/SEI CertificationNever purchase a helmet that is not certified! 
    • Correct Fit -  Check size charts for helmets.  Each helmet manufacturer sizes differently, and head shape can be as important as measurements.  An adjustable fit helmet is a good choice for children. When your child has the helmet on, the chin strap should fit snugly, but not tight, and the helmet should not wobble around when they nod their head. 
    • Price - Your child's first helmet need not be expensive!  You can purchase an approved schooling helmet for as little as $29.95.  For less than the cost of one riding lesson, you can feel sure that your child will be safe as possible.

    Paddock Boots

    Paddock boots are short leather or imitation leather riding boots that come just above the ankle, giving your young rider ankle support.  They  have a small heel and a flat sole to stop the foot from either slipping through or getting trapped in the stirrup during a fall.  They are traditionally brown or black and fasten either with a zipper or laces.  As an instructor, I believe this is the second most important piece of equipment you need to purchase. 

    What to look for in a Paddock Boot:

    • Fit:  You want the fit to have some ankle support, but you also want some growing room if you are buying for kids.  Paddock Boots come in lace, zip, or pull on styles, which will affect how they fit.  All are appropriate, but which you choose depends on what you need.  Lace boots have the most flexibility in fit.  Zip Boots are easy on and off, but can't be adjusted for fit around the ankle.  Pull-on (typically called "Jodhpur Boots") are the easiest to get on and off, which kids love, but are generally the loosest and you can't tighten them at all. If you want the convenience of a zippered boot with  the adjustability of a lace paddock, some manufacturers make combination paddocks.
    • Price:  Boot price is largely based on materials.  Leather is the most expensive, and synthetics are the cheapest.  While leather is nice, it is certainly not necessary for a beginning rider!  A good fitting synthetic boot is fine for beginners, and if they stick with the sport they can move up to a more expensive leather boot.

    Riding Pants:

    I always advise my first time riders to wear jeans or leggings for their first lesson.  As long as their legs are covered, and therefore protected from the leather of the saddle, this is a perfectly acceptable way to get started.  However, as your child progresses, a pair of riding pants will be necessary to prevent rubbing and to give your child a little bit of grip in the saddle.

    Either jodhpurs or riding tights are appropriate attire for riding lessons.  Both are form fitting and have a knee patch for added protection and grip. The difference is that Jodhpurs are folded at the bottom to go over the paddock boot and, as long as they are beige, are appropriate for horse shows. Riding tights tend to have thin elastic bottoms that can be worn inside a pair of socks and paddock boots. They can also be worn with taller boots like rain/muck boots, rubber boots, or tall riding boots.

    What to look for in riding pants:

    • Non Chafing Seams: Kids won't like riding if they are uncomfortable, and rubbing seams hurt!  Most riding pants are designed so that there are no interior seams to chafe and rub. 
    • Not Too Big:  A bit of growing room is fine.  However, most riding pants are made of stretch fabric and are meant to be form fitting.  Overly large pants fold and buckle at the knees and thighs, and thus can cause chafing. 
    • Easy Care:  Kids get dirty!  Barns are dirty!  The last thing you want is dry clean only riding pants for lessons. 
    • Color:  Kids schooling tights come in a variety of fun colors.  Kids love this.  Some instructors do not.


  • About Full Seat Breeches

    SAVVY SHOPPER BUYER'S GUIDE ON FULL SEAT BREECHES


    Full Seat Breeches have an insert that runs from below the waist at the back of the breech, across the seat and down the inside of both legs.  This gives fuller protection from rubbing than a knee patch breech that has reinforced areas only above and below the knee area.

    FULL SEAT MATERIALS


    The full seat of the breech can be of a number of different materials, each giving a different level of protection and grip, as well as setting the price point of the breech you are buying:

    Self-Fabric
    The same fabric as the breech itself. This will usually provide extra protection but little extra grip.   It is usually the least expensive approach.


    Clarino or other synthetic suede
    With the look and feel of sueded leather, there are many different branded synthetic suedes.  All give a good degree of extra protection against rubbing and increase the grip of the breech in the saddle.

    Something to remember is that most synthetic suede full seats have no ability to stretch in any direction.  So, you have a non-stretch fabric built onto a garment that usually has two or even four-way stretch. This will often lead to a slight difference in fit between a knee patch and a full seat version of the same brand of breech.

    The advantage of the Clarino-type full seat is that it is washable and can be dried at a low heat in your dryer and that it tends to keep the price point of your breech in the mid regions.

    Some great synthetic seat breeches to try out :  Irideon , Goode Rider,  Tuffrider  , Romfh

    Leather
    Leather full seats are prized for their grip, and with the correct care, their look and feel as they age.  They can be made of cow hide or deer skin and have a certain amount of natural stretch.

    Most leather full seats are washable following their manufacturer's care instructions.  Special leather washes and detergents are generally required to wash leather at home.  Leather seats will usually place your breech in the higher price points and are often paired with the more expensive European breech fabrics.

    For leather seats, check out:  Ovation Euroweave Leather and  FITS Breeches.


    New Technology
    Check out new approaches that combine Leather seats with other fabrics, or that break up or perforate the leather to make it breathable and flexible.  Some new technology brands to check out - FITS and  Kerrits

    BREECH FABRICS

    Once again, you will find a range of breech fabrics being used for your full seat breeches...  In many cases the type of weather and temperatures you will be riding in will dictate the type of fabric you want.

    Cool and Comfortable:
    Full seat breeches can be HOT.  If you are riding in summer time, or in temperate climates, you will want breech fabric that keeps you cool and does not hold moisture.  For Full Seat Breeches that Beat the Heat, chose breeches with clarino seats and micro fiber fabric, in light weights.

    Warm and Toasty:
    The training doesn't stop in winter and neither should you! Equestrian Collections offers a wide range of Winter Full Seat Breeches that will keep you warm, while allowing you to school and train to the same level you do in the summer. Depending on the severity of the climate you live in, you may want a medium weight breech made of powerstretch fabric, or a super heavy duty, snow proof over pants.     

    STYLE

    Full seat breeches come in a variety of styles that you can choose from to suit your needs - schooling, show or pleasure, there is a full seat breech out there for you!

    Zipped Full Seats
    Full Seat Breeches come with Front Zips or Side Zips.   The most formal style of full seat features a high waist and white fabric, to be worn with a Shadbelly.  While more casual and schooling breeches will come with a fashionable lower rise and fun colors and patterns. 

    Pull On Full Seats
    For schooling and pleasure riding, Full Seat Pull-On Breeches  can be an excellent choice.  As choices widen, you can even get a low-rise pull-on style!

    FASHION TRENDS
    Not too long ago, the full seat breech in formal colors was the staple of the dressage and event rider.  Full seats were serious and definitely not considered a fashion item.  Well forget that now!  Full seat breeches come in a giddy variety of fun colors with eye-catching full seats that demand attention.  You can see stripes, plaids, prints, paisleys - there seems to be no limit to the imagination!  Many brands now have figured that women like outfits, so we are also seeing coordinating socks, tops, belts and even horse gear to match our fancy of the day!! Equine Couture does an extensive collection of matching horse and rider gear that will work for the dressage rider.  For


  • Safety Tips for Hunting Season

    Stay Safe During Deer Season!


    With fall upon us, Equestrian Collections is delighted to talk with Mountain Horse about riding safely during hunting season.  Here are some of our question and Mountain Horse's tips and advice. 

    EC:  Many Equestrian Collections' customers love to hike and ride in the fall in wooded areas and over fields near where they keep their horses.  What extra precautions should they take to ensure that they can be seen and be safe - their horses too, of course!


    MH:  During hunting season it's important to be visible in the woods.  The best way for riders to protect themselves and their equine and canine companions is in the clothing and accessories that they wear, and the places that they chose to ride.

    Wear vibrant orange.  The more square inches of orange the better.  Helmet covers are available in a variety of bright colors, including neon yellow and blaze orange.  Orange safety vests are available for dogs in all sizes as well as bright orange quarter sheets for horses.  (As a side note, remember bright orange safety halters for turnout if your pastures are anywhere near hunting areas.  Better to be safe than sorry!) 

    EC:  Are there any colors to avoid?


    MH:  Yes!  Don't look like a deer!  Avoid wearing anything brown or white.  A flash of white can easily be mistaken for the white flag of a deer's tail.

    EC:  Where can we get riding gear that will help us be seen?


    MH: Mountain Horse offers a variety of products this season that will help.  Hunting season is your season for Mountain Horse!  There are several jackets this season in a great orange color, so you can be seen, and be stylish at the same time.

    EC: Most riders talk while they ride, so won't hunters hear them coming?


    MH: Higher pitch noises carry further than voices.  Definitely consider a bell attached to clothing, horse or dog, especially if you are riding alone when there will not be talking.  Additionally, the sound of hoof beats is deadened by fallen leaves, so in the fall you'll want to make some additional noise.

    EC: What are some other hints you could offer?


    MH:   A little extra planning and preperation will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing.
    1. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return
    2. Take your cell phone, have a GPS system loaded on it if possible
    3. Stick with established trails during hunting season.  Responsible hunters generally know where hiking and riding trails are located
    4. If possible, chose trails where hunting is not allowed
    5. DO NOT venture out on the first day of large game season
    6. Post the dates and rules for your state and local area in your barn  

    And remember to be courteous and respectful to hunters and non-hunters alike, so everyone can share and enjoy the woods!


      Thanks! And remember, the Mountain Horse collection is available on Equestrian Collections at a 10% discount year 'round.      

    Happy Trails!

     

      




  • What to Wear to Your First Show!

    With summer approaching, thousands of young (and not so young!) riders will begin their equestrian competitive journey with their very first horse show. This is an event that will never be forgotten - the hours of tack cleaning, the attempts at braiding, the early morning wake-up, the nerves. But what will be remembered most? The clothes! Let’s face it, for any new English rider, putting on that hunt coat for the first time is a big deal! 

    Even if it is just a schooling show at your home barn, the clothes really do matter. Not because the judges pay attention to the clothes; they don’t, that’s a myth. Rather, it matters because of tradition, respect for the sport, and mostly for the indescribable feeling of putting on that hunt coat, and actually riding in competition.

    Does that mean you have to spend a fortune? Absolutely not! While the sky is the limit on how much you could spend on show clothing, you certainly don’t have to. And for your first show, you probably shouldn’t. The kids are going to grow out of their show clothes.  The clothes they wear this season won’t work next year, and maybe not even six months from now.  While the adult rider won’t grow out of their clothes, as they move up the ranks they will probably want to upgrade. No sense breaking the bank the first time out.   

    What will I Need?

    The basics are pretty simple. For hunt seat classes, you’ll need a dark hunt coat, light colored show shirt, and light colored breeches. The younger kids will wear jodhpurs instead of breeches. The age break for the transition from jodhpurs to breeches can vary regionally. Check with your trainer or someone who has shown in the same venue before.

    What about Boots?

    The kids wear short paddock or jod boots, to match their jodhpurs. Adult and teen hunt seat riders generally wear tall field boots. For most small shows, either synthetic tall boots or paddock boot and half chap combinations are just fine. There is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on show boots. (By the way, crazy socks under your tall boots are all the rage.  It’s an easy and inexpensive way to personalize your show turnout)

    What about the Guys?

    Men and boys wear the same basic attire, with shirt and tie replacing the show shirt. Truth be told, novice level men’s English show clothing can be a challenge to find. At Equestrian Collections, we carry virtually every line of beginner to intermediate men’s show clothing – and there still isn’t an adequate selection!   

    What about a Helmet?

    Of course you will need a helmet!! Any time you are mounted you will need to have an ASTM approved helmet on your head and fastened properly. Not only is it required by all the show associations, it’s just common sense. Any dark, unadorned, approved helmet will do, though traditionally show helmets are velvet or velveteen.  

    Anything else?

    If you have long hair you will need to put your hair up. The youngest riders look cute with braids and ribbons, as long as the braids don’t cover their numbers.  This style is definitely only for the under ten crowd! For everyone else, a neat low bun, with a hairnet, is the way to go. It’s unobtrusive and won’t affect the way your helmet fits.  Don’t plan to put your hair under your helmet unless you regularly ride that way. It will make you helmet uncomfortably tight.

    Gloves are traditional, but not required. Black or brown is the norm (save the white for Dressage!), but if you haven’t worn gloves before, don’t start now. They will feel odd at first and may affect your rein aids.  

    Finally, ask your trainer if you should carry a crop or wear spurs. It is traditional to do so, but some trainers prefer that beginners do not.  Like gloves, show day is not the day to start! If you do use them, simple, black or brown crop and basic Prince of Wales spurs are the way the go. This is not the occasion for bright colors, fun shapes, or rhinestones!    

           


  • A-Circuit Trends on a Budget

    A-Circuit Looks Without Breaking the Bank!

     

    So you’ve done your time at clinics, are winning regularly at the local shows, and your trainer says it’s time to move up. Congratulations! But where to begin, and what do you need to buy?!

    First of all, if you have not already done so, try to go to a few shows at the level you are planning to ride and just watch. Knowing how things work, what people are wearing, and the general tempo of the day will go a long way in making your transition up the levels smoother. In particular, breed shows vs open shows can be very different in terms of clothing and turnout style. You’ll want to make sure you fit in. 

    I’ve heard I need the “right” show clothes. True?

    Well, yes and no. It is true that appearance and turnout will matter more as you move up the levels. Judges (and show stewards!) have a certain expectation of standards. You’ll need to meet those expectations.  It is NOT true however, that you must have a certain brand of breeches, or a particular helmet in order to show. We’ve yet to see a judge ask riders to remove their jackets so brand labels can be checked! And remember, no amount of expensive show clothing is ever going make up for a poor performance.

    Will it cost a lot of money to be properly turned out?  

    It may not cost as much as you imagine. Years ago, there were only a limited number of manufacturers of off the rack show clothing. Your only options were very cheap or very, very expensive. Everyone wore the same exact items, even down to the particular shade of breech color. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.   Many manufacturers have realized that riders want options. Plus, new fabrics and high tech innovations mean that there are less expensive items that not only look fantastic, but are also a great pleasure to ride in.

    The trick is to purchase good quality items that fit you well; stick to somewhat conservative colors, especially in your jacket; and then add a few touches of trendy “style” to make sure you fit in. For example, your show boots should last for years. Buy the best quality and fit you can afford. Show shirts, however, can be more reasonably swapped out year to year, so you came be a bit bolder in your style choices there.      

    What are the A-Circuit Trends I should pay attention to?

    Euro is in: European styling in both breeches and jackets are the most popular styles, and appear to have some staying power. Many hunter and jumper riders are wearing “Euroseat” breeches. These are breeches cut on a full seat pattern, but with knee patches rather than full seat. This actually has a practical aspect. These breeches are really comfortable to sit in, and have a very flattering silhouette.  Similarly, Euro style jackets with contrast collars are increasingly popular. Initially seen in the jumper ring, now we are seeing them in the hunter ring. 

    Bye-bye chokers: The old choker with pin is just about completely gone, with wrap and angled collars taking their place. You no longer have to keep track of a choker, and usually these shirts have pretty contrast patterns inside the collar and cuffs so you get a great casual look ringside. Fabrics have changed as well. There are stretch fabrics, and knit fabrics, and all kinds of technical fabrics to make your day cooler and more comfortable.

    Helmets aren’t just velvet anymore: Of course your helmet needs to be ASTM/SEI certified, but beyond that show helmets are starting to include features such as venting, or even built in visors. Remember though, especially in the hunter arena, always err on the side of conservative!  

    Bottom line, check out what your competition is wearing; then shop for the best you can reasonably afford and make sure that the fit is good. Fit and overall “look” is far more important than brand name and price tag.  Good luck, and congratulations and making it this far!     


  • Made in the USA

    Buying American

     

    With the economic difficulties of the past few years, many U.S. consumers have an increasing interest in buying American made products, and supporting American small businesses. What about horse products? Can you support American business growth when you buy your horse supplies and equestrian clothing?

    The short answer is yes. The horse industry contributes $39 billion directly to the economy, with an additional $102 billion in indirect impact. We can make in difference in what we choose to buy!          

    However, the actual selection of American made horse products can be complicated.   Traditionally, the “best” English tack and clothing has been European made, with Western tack tending to be American. Over the past twenty years or so, that dynamic has changed with both English and Western manufacturers transitioning to Asian, Indian, and Malaysian factories. 

    Does that mean there are no American made products? Absolutely not! There are large numbers of leather items that are made in the USA. In particular, Equestrian Collections carries products from Weaver Leather and Perri’s Leather, both of whom utilize Amish craftsmen for much of their leather work.  Equestrian attire is harder. Like most ready to wear clothing, a lot of equestrian attire is manufactured in Asia. However, there are a couple of brands that make a significant number of products in the United States – Irideon is one that comes to mind.

    There are also companies that utilize overseas materials, but complete their manufacturing process here in the United States, thus supporting many local skilled laborers. Tell it With Tees shirts, for instance, are made overseas, but all the screen printing is designed and done locally. Kelly Herd imports their silver, but makes all their jewelry here. Matrix Saddle Pads are all configured here in the States, as well. 

    Finally, we have many small manufacturers of unique products that made in the USA. Most Equi-Fit products are made locally, as are Sound Equine, Vetericyn, and Saratoga Sheets. For a large assortment of American made products, see our Made in the USA collection. 

    So, can you buy ALL your horse products made in the USA? Perhaps not, but there may be more out there than you realize.   And remember:  your trainer; your boarding facility; your farrier, your veterinarian; and even the concession stand at your local horse show – those are all “MADE in the USA” too! 


  • Fire Safety - Mitigation and Evacuation

    When Wildfire Strikes

     
    When we decided to do a fire safety issue of the Equestrian Collections Savvy Shopper, I didn’t know that I would have a front row seat to the worst fire disaster in Colorado history. The Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs killed two people, and destroyed 346 homes. More than 32,000 people, countless pets, horses, alpacas and cattle were evacuated.   My family and my horse were among the evacuees.  
     

    We were lucky. My home was spared, and my family, pets and horse are all safe.   What did I learn?  First, that people can be incredibly generous.   Friends offered stalls and meals; complete strangers brought truckloads full of hay; hotels waved pet policies so we could keep our small animals with us. Firefighters, military, and utility workers came from all over the country to help.  Ultimately, we all learned that there are forces of nature that are bigger than we are.  The firestorm that hit Colorado Springs on June 26th was approximately 2000 degrees and moving at 65 mph.  Once that heads in your direction, there is nothing you can do except get out!  There are, however, a lot of things you can do to prepare yourself and your horses for the possibility.  

    Fire Mitigation

    The single most important thing you can do on a continuing basis to protect your home and barns is fire mitigation. Fire survives and spreads based on fuel and wind. A burning ember from a wild fire can travel approximately a half mile by wind, and has a 65% chance of lighting whatever it lands on. You want to make sure that ember has as little fuel as possible when it lands on your property.   
     
    • ·         Remove tree limbs and brush adjacent to buildings at least ten feet
    • ·         Remove “ladder fuels” (dry brush under trees that connects to lower limbs). Clear the brush, remove lower limbs.
    • ·         Create separation between tree stands of at least ten feet
    • ·         Remove all dead and diseased timber and vegetation
    • ·         No wood shake roofs of any kind!
    • ·         Store hay separate from other buildings, and well away from horses.

    Evacuation Planning

    No one with horses wants to evacuate, and you can't know when or how the evacuation order will happen.   Regardless of the uncertainty, you’ve got to have a plan! Based on my experiences during Waldo Canyon, there are a number of things you can do to make the evacuation experience smoother and safer.
     

    Long Term Planning:

    Sign up for Reverse 911 – EVERYONE should sign up for reverse 911 and emergency alerts. Check with your county emergency agency to find out how to register your phone and address to get alert messages to your cell phone.  

    Make a Communication Plan - One of the biggest issues we had was communication. In a large boarding facility, it takes too long to individually call owners. Texting may be a better route.  But be aware - cell service of any kind may not be reliable.  On June 26th,  the system is Colorado Springs was so overwhelmed that thousands of calls and messages were dropped.  Everyone needs to be personally responsible and keep an eye on the situation.  Realize that you may not get a call or warning.  

    Plan an Evacuation Location - Livestock evacuation centers are generally set up at large venues like fair grounds and show facilities.   However, having a prearranged back up option is a good idea. Make sure it is located well away from your barn; you don’t want to head to a nearby barn only to have to evacuate from there too!

    Create a Parking and Loading Plan - Multiple trailers going in and out creates chaos! Imagine the worst horse show parking you have ever seen, and then add stress, smoke, panicked owners, and the occasional water drop helicopter flying over.  Designate one loading area, with clear in and out driving lanes. Assign someone the job of directing traffic.
     

    Manage Trailers and Transportation:

    Count Trailer Slots - If you don’t have enough trailer slots for all the horses on your property, consider recruiting potential drivers/rigs from other barns. Don’t depend on your immediate neighbors!! They are probably evacuating too.   Do not plan on making repeat trips.  Once you are out, you may not be allowed back in.
     

    Check Trailer Maintenance - We realized we had a low tire just as we were hooking up the trailer. We were able to stop at a service station on the way out, but if that tire had been flat, we would have had a serious issue. Another boarder had an expired trailer license. Simple things easily fixed ahead of time.  

    Trailer Train Every Horse on your Property (and load them occasionally to practice) - This cannot be stressed enough!  Even your most reliable loaders will probably be stressed and anxious; this is NOT the time to trailer train horses.

     

    What to Take with You:

    Have Halters and Identification. Every horse on the property should have a breakaway halter with identification and a lead line. You can order customized halters with owner’s name and phone directly on the halter. 

    Have a First Aid Kit - Be sure to take basic equine first aid supplies. There is a good chance horses being evacuated will be in  contact with strange horses. There will be bumps, bruises, bites and cuts.  Someone should also be responsible for basic health information paperwork, any equine insurance, and Coggins for all horses. Make sure to have your vet and farrier's phone numbers.   

    Take Hay if you can - Large evacuations will stress the local hay supply. Unless hay travels with evacuated horses, there may not be enough hay in the local area for immediate needs. It will take a few days for large hay shipments to come in. 


  • Your Fall Equestrian To-Do List

    A Fall Check List

     

    Although the Autumnal Equinox is not until September 22nd, most of us consider the day after Labor Day the first day of the Fall season.  As horse owners, the arrival of Fall means all sorts of changes to our equine to-do list. It's time to start putting away the fly sheets and putting up the hay.   

    Climax of the Show Season – Most show circuits are headed into their end of season finals and awards. If you had a successful season and are moving into the finals, dress up your show apparel with a new show shirt. It will make your turnout fresh and crisp, and it won't break the bank. Are you a show organizer?  Now is the time to order end of season awards! If you want monogramed items or special purchases you need to order to now to make sure you get them in time. 

    Fox Hunting – Fall is Fox Hunting Season! If you are lucky enough to participate in this traditional equine activity, now is the time to dust off your Hunt Attire and purchase new items if you need to. Traditional Hunt attire is getting harder and harder to find in the world of equine retail. At Equestrian Collections, we carry a full line of Hunt Attire.

    Schedule Fall Shots - With West Nile infection rates going up all over the country, this is definitely not the year to postpone those Fall vaccinations! Call you vet and schedule your horse's shots, or better yet, schedule a shot clinic for your entire barn. You will get all the horses done at once, and most vets will cut you a break on the barn call fee.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

    Winter Blankets  - Make sure your winter blankets are ready, so you won’t be caught out in the cold. Check out our blanket care/repair instructions, and think about purchasing new blankets if you need to.    

    Put up Hay for Winter – Because of extreme weather this summer, hay is becoming a huge issue for horse owners in the South West, Mid West, and Mountain states. In some areas, a bale of grass hay is twice the cost it was a year ago! Even if you have a regular hay supplier, check early for hay prices and availability, and make sure you will have enough to get through the winter. Since no one wants to waste hay this year, check our hay bags and feeders and chose ones that will decrease the amount of hay that is spilled, stepped on, and ruined.   

    Get Ready to Clip – Do you show in winter? Or live in a warmer climate? In either case, you’ll probably be clipping your horse in the coming months. Make sure you’ve got appropriate clippers and that they are in good working order. Nothing is quite as ugly as a bad clip job with old, dull clipper blades!  

    New Cool Weather Gear – Equestrian Collections is putting up new fall and winter riding attire daily! There are great new winter riding breeches, technical shirts, jackets and gloves – all designed to keep you comfortable in cooler temperatures. Don't see quite what you need? Keep checking back, as there will be new products every week for the next month or so.  

    Finally … get out on the trails!! Fall is the ideal season for trail riding. The weather is moderate, the skies are blue, and the fall colors are just tremendous! Whether you  fox hunt, endurance ride, or hit the trails with friends, getting out of the ring and into the woods is a great reminder of why we all started riding in the first place – wide open spaces, exhilarating paces and  beautiful scenery from horseback. You just can’t beat it.           


  • Equestrian Undergarments

    Equestrian Undergarments

     
    As equestrians, we spend a lot of time thinking about riding clothes – the boots, the breeches, the helmets.  Of course, show clothing is a whole subject unto itself. What we don’t think about much, and we should, is the underclothing we ride in. Pay a bit more attention to your “unmentionables” and you’ll find you have both a more comfortable and more effective ride.    
     
    Every sport has unique physical requirements that shape clothing choices. Horseback riding, like running, tennis and many other activities, has a lot of concussive elements. Basically, every step your horse takes causes shock waves to travel through your horse to you.  In addition to concussive elements, riding also has friction issues, much closer to what a bicyclist experiences than a runner.   Finally, because horseback riding is a year round outdoor sport, there are also temperature issues – both hot and cold.    Choosing the correct riding undergarments can help with all of these issues. 
     

    Riding, Concussion, and Sports Bras:

     
    Your horse’s impulsion and movement travels up and through your body. Proper riding technique and muscular fitness can reduce the degree of shock quite a bit.   However, your breasts have no anatomical means of limiting the degree of motion. No matter how skilled a rider you are, your breasts will bounce! Not only is the bouncing unsightly in a sport where the objective is to be “one with your horse”, but it is painful and can cause permanent tissue damage.   A good, high impact, sports bra is really your only defense.  
     
    A good sport bra minimizes breast movement in one of two ways:  By compression, where the breasts are held against the chest wall to limit motion; or encapsulation, in which the bra is engineered to surround and support the breasts.  Sometimes one bra uses both techniques.  If you're a small or medium breasted woman (A to C cup), chose a compression style bra for maximum support. Or, if you prefer to maintain a fuller silhouette, you can choose a bra that offers encapsulation for shaping as well as support.   If you're a larger-breasted woman (C to DD cup) you may find encapsulating styles that separate and support your breasts more comfortable and more supportive than compression bras.  For absolute maximum support, choose a sport bra that does both. (Our choice – Enell!)
     

    Riding and Friction:

     

    No matter how skilled a rider you are, there is always going to be some slight, subtle motion between you and your horse. Serious cyclists have been wearing anti-friction clothing for years, and their “mounts” don’t move about nearly so much as your horse does!  Seat, crotch, and inner thighs are all areas that can be painfully affected by friction. Breeches are designed to eliminate painful seams in friction areas, but that does little good if your undergarments aren’t designed correctly.  
     
    Riding underwear comes in two basic forms – traditional and long line. Traditional styles look much like your regular underwear, but will have carefully placed seams to make sure you are not riding directly on a seam, and may also have subtle padding in the crotch area to help to alleviate painful rubs. Long line underwear fits all the way down to just above or below the knee. These garments are designed specifically to go under snug fitting breeches.   They are generally seam free in the crotch, seat, and inner thigh to eliminate rubs. They tend to be made of light compression fabric that will not only support heavily working thigh and gluteal muscles, but will also give you a clean, sleek appearance in your breeches. An extra plus of long line – they will add an extra opacity to your white show breeches! 
     

    Hot and Cold:

     
    Depending upon where you live, you likely deal with riding in hot or cold temperatures, possibly both. The right undergarment can help to keep you warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.
     
    Regardless of season, you’ll want fabric that breathes.  As you exercise, you sweat. In the winter, sweat will eventually evaporate and make you cold.  For serious winter protection, look for “long underwear.” Not the old baggy flannel long johns, though; riding winter thermal wear is sleek, high tech, and designed for horseback. This snug fitting long underwear has flat lock anti-chafe seams, microfiber fabric, and sometimes stirrups and thumb hooks to hold it in place while you dress.   In the summer humidity, sweat will stay on your skin and make you sticky. Not only will that keep you hotter, but during longer rides, that can also make fabric prone to bacterial growth. For summer weather, look for mesh panels and anti-bacterial properties in the fabric.  
     
    Remember not to forget your sports bra!  In summer particularly, compression sports bras can be hot and sticky.  Make sure you select one with breathable, moisture wicking fabrics and mesh panels. 


  • Equestrian Fitness

    Equestrian Fitness

    Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get fit and healthy? As equestrian athletes, we face a unique fitness challenge.  Good riding requires a certain degree of fitness and strength. Yet, unless you are a full time rider and trainer, riding alone is probably not enough to keep you fit.  In general, riding qualifies as moderate exercise.   You’ll burn about 300 calories actively riding for an hour. By comparison, jogging (not running!) for an hour will burn about twice that. We know we need to be fit to ride, but how do we do it if riding itself doesn’t keep us fit enough?!  

    There are three general areas of fitness to be concerned about – strength, aerobic fitness, and flexibility:

    Riding and barn work actually give us a fair amount of strength training. Throw a few hay bales around, and cart multiple wheel barrows of wet manure, and you’ll feel plenty of muscles burn! Riding is excellent for developing leg strength, as well as core strength and balance. Still think you are not getting enough strength work at the barn? Check out the workout in The Riders Fitness Program, with a foreword by Anne Kursinski.  

    Aerobic fitness refers to your body’s ability to use oxygen to meet energy demands during exercise.   Feel out of breath after a cross country ride? That’s lack of aerobic fitness.  Regular running, walking, and swimming are all examples of ways to improve your aerobic fitness. Our horses tend to be aerobically fit; us riders, not so much!  Most of us are too busy with families, jobs, and horse chores to add running a few miles to our daily routine, so the trick is try to add more aerobic activity to your day.  The CEO of Equestrian Collections recently added a treadmill to her computer office set up; she walks while she works. This is perfect! If you can’t do that, try a brisk walk on your lunch hour, or give up the elevator for the stairs. At the barn, consider taking a cue from the endurance riders and jog beside your horse a couple days a week. You’ll get some exercise and your horse will benefit from practicing their ground manners. Extra perk, you’ll have a much easier time next time you have to jog your horse for soundness! There are some great sneaker style boots that are designed to transition from the saddle to ground. 

    Flexibility is a particular problem for riders. The strength and stillness in the saddle that we value so much tends to create rather inflexible bodies. “Stiff and sore” is how most of us feel much of the time! Stretching before, during, and after riding is critical. Many riders borrow from Ballet, Yoga, and Pilates to create stretching regimes that help their riding. Check out the Equibarre Fitness DVD,  for a ballet based workout, or our selection of books and dvds on Pilates just for equestrians. Yoga is another possibility for improving your flexibility and balance.  Create a more flexible body, and you will have a more effective ride. You know that heels down thing your trainer hounds you about? Yoga can really will help!

    Of course, we all know riding is a partnership. Don’t forget your horse’s fitness! Check out Build a Better Athlete and Equine Fitness   for ideas on how to get your equine partner on his own fitness program!  


 
 

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