Friday, January 30, 2015

Spring & Summer Collections 2015

Hang in there everyone, spring is right around the corner and so are the new lines from riding apparel manufacturers.
Take a look at what Asmar Equestrian is offering up in their spring collection.  This polka dot pony polo is so stinking cute!

Kerrits has also posted their new offerings on their website and have some very electric colors in their  spring / summer line.  Check out their mesmerizing Caribbean blue and vivacious Papaya items.
Flex Tight II Full Seat
Ice Fil Short Sleeve

Britain is also looking ahead to the warmer months and Musto Clothing has given event rider Zara Phillips her own active wear label.  ZP176 features light weight rain jackets, vests, and even a short sleeve down jacket.  My favorite piece is her 1/4 zip tech fabric cross country top with its bright orange zipper and left side color block. Even though they're a GB brand Musto will still ship to the US so if you have to have it, you can absolutely get it.
ZP176 Cross Country Top

I'll keep posting the new 2015 items as they come up and will have my picks for winter boots posted Monday morning.  Until then, happy riding!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hey old man winter, get the heck off my lawn!

It's been an odd winter here in New Jersey. We've had tons of mud, ice, and cold, windy days but so far the 2014-2015 winter hasn't had that much snow.  Last year's polar vortex dumped quite a bit of snow on the east coast so I've learned that your winter riding kit needs to be ready to handle anything. This list is just a few of the items I like to bring to the barn with me to ensure I return home from my lessons without losing fingers and toes to frost bite.

#1. Good winter boots. Cold toes suck. They suck even more when you dismount and the shock from landing sends a wave of pain up your spine and into your teeth. A boot with heavy tread will give you better traction on winter ground and help keep you right side up. I'll be doing a post next week about my favorite brands and styles of winter boots. 

#2 Hand warmers! Oh these are such fantastic nuggets of wonderfulness. Open the pouch, shake them around and remember what it feels like to move your fingers. I keep new packs in my car, in my purse and usually one in my big poofy winter coat. I also like to put hand warmers in my gloves and roll the bit between my hands to take the chill off before bridling. Get them at any outdoor sporting goods store like REI or Academy, or stores like Walmart, Target, and Kmart.  

#3 Fleece lined tights. Some like silk thermals or leggings as a winter base layer but my personal favorite is fleece lined tights. These are so great for an extra layer under breeches. They don't add a lot of bulk and they don't have seams on the inside of the knee that can cause rubs. They're fuzzy, snugly, warm and best of all, they're so cheap. A pair of fleece lined tights can be picked up from Target, Kohl's, and Urban Outfitters for around $10.00. 

#4 Full chaps. Hey, so the 80's and 90's called, and they want their chaps back. Uh huh, then you can pry them from my cold dead hands. Full chaps are what I break out for the coldest of days, especially if it's windy outside. They're an excellent outer layer because air doesn't penetrate them easily. They keep your body heat in and the wind, rain or snow out. Full chaps also give you plenty of extra stick in the saddle which is beneficial when dealing with horses who get a bit amped up by blustery weather. You can order a pair of new full chaps from the online retailers but I recommend getting a used pair that is broken in and free of rips, wear holes or broken zippers. I see beautiful pairs of chaps in amazing colors with fringe and piping and trims that probably cost their original owner hundreds new selling for $60.00 shipped on the Facebook tack groups. If you want to give full chaps a try, post an ISO on Facebook and let them come to you. I should also warn you to not use full chaps regularly if you have a plushy calfskin saddle. Chap leather or suede is usually tougher than calf skin and can cause premature wear.

#5 Wide cloth head wraps. Even with an indoor arena my ears still get cold while riding in the winter.   There's all kinds of helmet covers, helmet ear muffs, and fleece headbands on the market to help combat frosty ears but my experience with those items hasn't been great. The wrap around helmet covers twist when you turn your head to look at the next fence, the ear muffs are too dense to hear my trainer's instructions, and the fleece headbands are too thick to fit under my helmet. Then one day I'm standing in the hairbrush aisle at CVS and I see these wide cloth head wraps and have a lightbulb moment. They're soft, stretchy, add a thin extra layer when pulled over your ears and they don't impact the fit of my helmet at all. The best part is when your ride is over you can just slide it back and helmet hair is tamed enough to run errands. If you do hunter hair to keep your ears warm layering a head wrap on top will keep everything in place and block the wind. These head wraps can be picked up at practically every drug store for around $5 a pack.

Of course a good coat and gloves are necessary to get you through the winter too but you already knew that. What items help keep you comfortable during the winter? Let me know through the comments, Facebook, or Twitter. I'll be sharing my winter boot picks next week.  

Fear not, winter will be over soon and there's no better way to acknowledge that than to look forward to all the spring collections coming out. AETA is happening next weekend so we'll start seeing the spring and summer lines, short sleeves and bright colors hitting catalogs soon.  I'll post those collections as they become available so check back, like my Facebook page or follow my twitter feed for those updates.  Until next week, happy riding!

Monday, January 19, 2015

20% off Charles Owen Helmets

Hey, weren't we just talking about helmets?  If you're in the market for a new Charles Owen show helmet or skull cap Bit of Britain has a 20% off sale happening for the month of January.  That means custom GR8's starting under $250.00.  Use coupon code WINTER15 to make it happen. Happy riding!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Starter kit for riding lessons - Part 3 of 3 - Breeches

#3 Breeches

When you first start out, jeans will totally get you through your first batch of riding lessons. But, you will have that one lesson on a different horse, or in a different saddle, or even when your instructor tells you to drop your stirrups and then you will feel why many english riders wear breeches. The inner seam on your jeans can leave rubs on your skin when you start to develop your leg position. Leggings can be a good substitute if they have a high cotton percentage but overall, you should invest in one or two pairs of breeches for your lessons. Breeches come in many colors, fabrics, fits, and seasonal weights. When deciding on a breech make sure to measure according to the size chart provided by the manufacturer and factor in the climate you’re riding in. You will also need to decide if knee patch or full seat are right for you. Full seat breeches are most often worn in dressage and knee patch styles are favorited by jumping disciplines. Knee patches are universally correct so that’s what we’ll work with for now. Light tan and beige are classic colors that are always acceptable for lessons, clinics, and the show ring. They’re also boring and show green horse snot too easily so if your budget allows, buy a backup pair in a darker color. You can get some great starter breeches for under $100.00.

First recommendation goes to TuffRider. I wouldn’t be surprised if every rider has owned this breech at some point. These ribbed breeches are excellent at resisting stains, have a great amount of stretch and wear like iron. You can find this model in nearly every catalog and tack shop because they’re so inexpensive and universally loved.
Tuff Rider Ribb Low Rise 
Tuff Rider Ribb Low Rise for kids

Ariat has great breathable technical fabrics and their breeches are known for a forgiving fit through the hip and thigh. I have two pairs of Ariats in my closet that are almost a decade old and still going strong so I don’t hesitate to recommend these as great starter breeches.
Ariat Heritage Breech

There once was a brand called Tailored Sportsman that all the hunter jumper riders loved and adored. Ok, so they still do but a pair of Tailoreds will run you $180.00! Nope, we don’t have that kind of money, we have lessons to take. So let’s look at the best copy cat on the market, the On Course Pytchley breech. Stretchy supportive fabric? Check. Euroseat? Check. Wide belt loops and lightly contrasting knee patches for $79.00? Sold!
On Course Pytchley breech
These are my favorite bargain for a classically styled breech. The Riding Sport Competitor II breech also has the euroseat detail, a structured cotton fabric with lots of stretch, wide belt loops and clarino knee patches. They’re Dover’s in house knockoff of the Tailored Sportsman breech and they have also done a great job. These often sell for $65.00 but you can find them for even less through the various sales Dover runs.
Dover Competitor II side zip
And for something a little different I’d like to give a quick thumbs up to Kerrits for their Performance riding tights. If you’re tall and thin or you like a really light weight stretch breech that feels like a pair of running tights these should be your go to. They’re a great price, come in tons of colors and are very easy to wear. They also make adults and kids versions of this versatile breech. Heads up though many of the Kerrits breeches don’t have pockets to stash car keys or peppermints.

Kerrits Performance Tights

I hope this gives you a good foundation for building your riding wardrobe. Questions, comments, or content you’d like to see? Let me know! Remember to keep checking back every Monday morning for new product reviews. Happy riding!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Winter riding gear sale on Zulily today

Just wanted to post a quick link that Zulily has Kerrits winter apparel on their site today.  
I grabbed a pair of these awesome power stretch full seat breeches in their lovely Juniper green color for $60.00 and change shipped.  Go! Buy warm winter gear!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Starter Kit for Riding Lessons - Part 2 of 3 - Paddock Boots

The second piece of safety gear you’ll want to purchase is a proper pair of boots. Paddock boots are shaped with a wide, one inch heel to prevent your foot from sliding through the stirrup. You can pair them with half chaps to give your lower leg extra grip or go without which is more acceptable for young children. Just like any other shoes you can pay a little but you’ll have to sacrifice comfort and quality. There are many brands of synthetic leather boots available but real leather will last longer when properly cared for, break in better, and will breathe better. However, if your child is growing and needs a bigger size every few months, by all means go synthetic or buy used from the consignment section. All of the boots featured this week are leather and are less than $70.00.

I’ll start with Dublin paddock boots. Dublin has a great history of taking innovations from high end brands and working those features into an entry level price point. Keep them in mind when looking for other specialty boots too as their tall boots, winter boots, and river boots pack a lot of value for the price.

Next is a house brand offered by Dover Saddlery. Middleburg boots have a good reputation when it comes to comfort and this particular pair give you the punched toe cap which is a detail I really love on riding boots. These boots also give you a choice of a zipper or lace front.
I’ll also recommend the TuffRider Baroque paddock boot for riders just starting out. TuffRider has really figured out the balance between function and durability while keeping prices low. You’ll see them come up often on this blog. Their Baroque paddock boots are quite soft for a full grain leather.

Next week I'll feature part 3 of the lesson starter kit, breeches.  Check back every Monday for a new product post. Until then, happy riding!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Welcome to Suitable Turnout

The goal of this blog is to sift through the mountain of choices equestrians have when it comes to gear and apparel. I aim to review products that make my life in the saddle and around the barn the most comfortable and identify the best value for your money. We all know horses are expensive so as horsemen and women we need functional, durable, comfortable gear without over paying. I'll help you find what's on sale, unconventional places to buy great riding gear, what to pass on, brands that have yet to disappoint, and even what to splurge on. In short whether it's summer, winter, schooling, or showing my goal is to make sure your turnout is suitable. I'd love to hear what works for you too. If you have recommendations or would like to know about a specific product contact me by email (suitable turnout at gmail dot com), Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and I'll weigh in. Happy shopping and happy riding!

Starter Kit for Riding Lessons - Part 1 of 3 - Helmet

Has your child convinced you to buy a block of riding lessons? Have you decided that you want to get into the saddle for the first time or back into it after time away? Great! Riding horses can be a fantastic adventure and a wonderful experience. When starting your lessons there are a few essential pieces of gear that you need to pick up to keep you safe in the saddle.

 #1. Helmet

Helmets are required at many of the lesson barns in the USA and Canada because accidents can and do happen. New riders who haven’t quite figured out their balance are especially prone to unscheduled departures so protecting your head is at the top of the list. Many riding schools have helmets students can borrow but I recommend buying your own as soon as possible because lesson equipment is often used and abused. If you have a fall and hit your head, even just a little bump, your helmet is compromised and needs to be replaced. They are not designed to take multiple impacts and really, helmets have gotten cheap and your brain is worth it. When choosing a helmet the fit is the most important thing to consider. A helmet that moves around will not protect you when you need it. This is where your local tack shop comes in. Go and try on everything to get an idea of your head shape and find something comfortable in your budget. If you don’t have a local tack store measure yourself and call the catalogue companies. I recommend SmartPak and Riding Warehouse as they have free returns on sized items and a great selection.

Now that you know your budget and what fits, let’s take a look at helmet features to consider.

Dial Fit: For children dial fits can be a great option as they can accommodate growth spurts. Devon-Aire, Ovation, Troxel, and IRH all make ASTM / SEI certified helmets in a wide variety of styles and colors. These are also great if you’re in-between sizes or decide to cut your hair.
Closeup of dial fit from the Troxel Spirit helmet

Ventilation: A helmet needs to be comfortable in all seasons, especially in the summer. Many schooling helmets on the market offer ventilation and they can be a real life saver on hot summer days. Consider a helmet with plenty of air vents like the Tipperary Sportage or the Ovation Protege. 
Tipperary Sportage
Ovation Protege

Colors: Helmets used to be black velvet and that’s all you got. Now, if you want a pink pony princess helmet for your daughter, or flashy with lots of bling for yourself it’s out there. As long as it fits, wear whatever color you like. I will add that if you plan on doing any starter horse shows you’ll want a traditional dark helmet. You can always purchase colorful helmet covers to personalize and change up your look. Helmet covers can also stretch your ventilated helmet through the winter months and keep you dry if you get caught in the rain.
Troxel Spirit in Pink
Casco Reithelme Spirit Peacock

Custom Samshield in black and gold with Swarovski crystals

Finally, make sure that the helmet you choose has a chin strap that fits you. All too often I see people that should know better riding around with the harness adjusted too loose. You need to make sure you strap it on your head properly. Shorten the chin strap so you can fit one to two fingers between the harness and your chin. If you can’t get the chin strap short enough the helmet doesn’t fit, move on to another option.

Next week I'll be featuring part two of the starter kit, paddock boots.  Make sure to check back every Monday for a new post. Until then, happy riding!