My Latest SmartPak Haul

I know I’m not alone in coveting new gear for myself and my pony, right? For those of you shaking your heads, take a good long look at yourselves and be honest. I know you want pretty things. That’s right. I’m calling you out.

Myself, I’m an unabashed clothes hound. I used to covet dresses and pretty blouses, but that hoarding tendency has transferred 100% to horse gear. Since I’m half-leasing for the time being and much of Addy’s gear is taken care of, this tends to manifest in lots of riding clothes.

And that’s where SmartPak comes in.

I could write an ode to their fast shipping, fantastic return policy, or lovely selection that amuses me on their website for hours on end. But that’s not what this post is about. Instead, I’ll share my latest haul(s) and tell you exactly what I think: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Piper Knee-Patch Breeches by SmartPak

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I got these in the merlot-charcoal color based on an emphatic recommendation from Jenn at Stories From the Saddle, and haven’t regretted it for a minute. I also got another pair in iron-champagne thanks to Allison from Pony’tude, and am eying a couple other color combos on the website.

The good: so super comfortable. The sock bottom make them fit really well under my super tight tall boots, and the material has just enough stretch to make them great for all-day wear without getting baggy after a few hours. I’m also a huge fan of the colors- the merlot is straight up pretty and a fun different color, and the iron is perfect for hiding dirt without looking like you’re trying to hide dirt. You know, that effortless barn chic we all crave (sadly it looks like this color is discontinued. I’ll try not to gloat too much). Basically, I feel like a fashionable rockstar in these; everyone looks better with a little euroseat stitching to give some shape.

The bad: the waistband is a bit gappy. I don’t have much of a badonkadonk so this isn’t too bad, but my friend had to return hers because the gapping was so extreme. I just throw a belt on and it fixes the problem for me. For the price ($70ish but there’s regular 20% off sales!!), I ain’t too mad about this.

Overall rating: 4/5 will almost definitely add more to my collection

Piper T-Shirts

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I recently snagged three of these on sale in black/gray, blue jean, and coral pink. In fact, I wore the blue jean tee yesterday and currently have the black/gray tee on.

The good: literally everything. They’re way softer than anticipated, fit nice and close to my body, have just enough of a vee-neck to be flattering, they’re long enough to tuck into low-rise breeches, and the colors are great. Not to mention the price- with the sale and my USEF discount, I paid roughly $7 per shirt. The black/gray also perfectly matches the piping on my merlot Piper breeches, so I’m psyched to be the matching queen.

The bad: I didn’t buy more while the sale was on. Seriously, I can’t think of anything wrong with these. I guess my coworkers sometimes ask why there’s a horse on my shirt (the Smartpak logo)??? But that’s their problem if they haven’t realized I’m a crazy horse lady, so I refuse to ding the shirt for that.

Overall rating: 5/5 will DEFINITELY add more to my collection

Sunshield Longsleeve Shirt by SmartPak

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Picked this up (also on sale) in the royal blue color based on strong recommendations from Jenn (there is a pattern here. She is my enabler).

The good: in love with the color. Especially with my snowy white pony (listen, I can dream about her someday being clean, don’t burst my bubble). It’s fairly lightweight and I don’t get too overheated in it.

The bad: While it does protect me from the sun, I definitely know that I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt in the middle of July. It’s much better than another long sleeve would be, but the breathability isn’t as high as I was hoping. Also, the sizing isn’t great- I got an XS and it’s still super boxy.

Overall rating: 3/5 will maaaaybe add more to my collection if there’s a sale

USG Bonnet

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I’m showing in the jumpers more often, so we need to have a bonnet. Right? I’m a big fan of playing dress up so we’ll go with it. I lucked out that my barn colors were available (navy and burgundy) and the price was right, so I pulled the trigger and ordered.

The good: the ears fit really nicely and it’s a good size overall. There’s plenty of material to go under the crownpiece, so I never worry about it getting loose. Like I said, the colors were ideal. The materials were good too- Lycra ears which stretched just right and cotton woven front.

The bad: maybe I’m just bad at bonnets, but I couldn’t get this to lay flat and pretty. Part of this may be due to Addy’s big poofy forelock that I didn’t adequately tame prior to our ride, but it just didn’t seem quite right. I’d be curious to see how other bonnets fit to see if this is something wonky with the bonnet, or something wonky with Addy’s giant head.

Overall rating: 3/5 not unhappy with my purchase, but will probably spring for custom next time

Ariat Prix Classic Polo

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Got this in navy to wear to our first jumper show- I really lucked out that my barn’s colors are navy and burgundy, since most things come in navy and it’s my favorite color. Boom.

The good: nice weight, has held up really well in the wash, and definitely long enough to tuck into low-rise breeches. It’s a pretty navy and I like that it has 4 buttons instead of the classic 3. I now have an official barn polo that I’ll likely wear in shows, but I love wearing this in lessons and for schooling- it looks very sharp and professional.

The bad: SO HOT. I know a medium-weight dark polo probably wasn’t the best choice for a hot summer show, but I was sweating like a pig in this thing. It’s not the shirt’s fault for that though, it can’t help the way it was made. I also wish it was a little cheaper, but I’m the type of person who hates paying more than $10 for a shirt (but apparently I’m fine with dropping $200 on pants without blinking). For the quality and comfort, it really is a very fair price.

Overall rating: 4/5 will likely grab another if I find myself in need of another polo

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Breeches Review

I’ve been slowly building up my collection of riding pants over the last few months, and I wanted to share my findings with you. Here’s a list of what’s currently in my closet and what I think about them:

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Image: Smartpak. Looks accurate.

TS Trophy Hunters (mid-rise, side-zip $189): Obsessed. They are definitely the most expensive breeches in my closet, but I think they’re worth every penny. I have them in tan and white and can’t wait to collect more colors. The material stretches where it should, holds me in where it should, and the euro-seat is super flattering. They do get a little baggy in the crotch if I’m not wearing a belt/don’t pull them up enough, but I feel naked without a belt anyways so that’s not a big deal. I may try out the front-zip or low-rise for schooling some time.

I can’t find a picture that look like mine.

TS (low-rise, side-zip, on sale for $99): Just the classic breeches, though I think the reason they were on sale is because they’re from a defective product run- the knee patches aren’t the classic suede. These do run a little small, but they stay up nicely with or without a belt. If I could have a do-over I would either size up or get the mid-rise since they’re pretty tight on my hips, but it’s not too constricting so I’ll just deal with it- bonus that there’s no sagging anywhere because they stay in place on their own. A little lighter fabric than the Trophy Hunters, but still has good stretch. Got these for a steal on sale and super happy with them. Only negative: the velcro on the bottom hits at a really weird place at the inside of my leg, so I can really only use these with tall boots unless I want weird rubs on my shins.

Still can’t find a picture. Do I only own bootleg breeches?

RJ Classics (low-rise, side-zip, $140ish): These are my go-to schooling breeches. They’re a little stiff after I wash them, but once I do some knee-bends they soften up just fine. The velcro bottom hits just right on my leg, and the knee doesn’t bunch up under my tall boots. Showing in these hasn’t been quite right though: my shirt doesn’t stay tucked in because it’s too low-rise. My long-torso self needs to stick with the mid-rise for shows.

RS_brownImage: Dover. Imagine these in blue.

Riding Sport (low-rise, side-zip, $70): In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a side-zip kinda girl. These are another favorite; I’ve washed them a thousand times with no sign of wear, I ride in them at least once a week, and the slate blue color makes me super happy. They’re stretchy, comfy, and good looking to boot. All that for $70. I would totally show in the tan version of these, that’s how much I love them.

Seriously can’t find a picture. These are pretty bootleg though.

Fouganza tights (mid-rise, pull-on, $15 on sale): So yeah, these breeches were on sale for $15 and there’s a reason for that. They’re a nice stretchy knit, pretty thick so good for winter. The knee patch is just more fabric so there’s not a ton of grip there. I only ever wear these for riding on my own, never in lessons, and they get the job done. These are what I wear on bath days since I don’t mind getting them wet and dirty and messy. They’re showing a little wear after being washed a bunch, but for $15 I won’t complain.

These do not deserve the honor of a photograph.

Corduroy full seat (mid-rise, pull-on, depths of a consignment shop): I won’t even dignify these with a brand name because it’s not worth digging them out of the depths of my closet. The suede full seat makes me feel like I’m wearing a diaper and these only make an appearance when I don’t do laundry for 3 weeks and have literally no other choice. Even then I’ll probably end up wearing jeans with my half chaps. Anyone want to buy some terrible full seat breeches? (I don’t think I have a promising future in sales).

My question for you, Dear Readers: what’s your favorite breech for schooling? For shows? Anything you would super duper recommend to someone who is 5’9″ and slender? I’m always looking to grow my collection!

Chiming Back In with a Goals Review

Hi gang! Sorry for the radio silence over the last week- between some all-day trainings at work and a pileup of chores, I ended up taking a mini blog vacation. I’ve been reading through some posts and definitely want to catch up with my commenting; some of you guys had really fantastic weeks!

Anywho. Brief horse-life update: Trainer and Assistant Trainer were both out of town with a bunch of our riders at the Maryland National show last week (everyone did really well!) so Pretty Girl and I did not have a lesson. We just popped over a couple crossrails with a buddy and called it a day. All the swelling in Addy’s leg is completely gone and she has shown zero tenderness or heat in the area. We think that the weather evening out, more consistent work, and lots of turnout on firm ground is what she needed. Very glad it turned out to be so minor!

What I wanted to do today was chime in with a lot of folks that are doing a quarterly review of their horse-goals for the year. So looking back to my resolutions for the year, here goes!

  • Get comfortable schooling 3′. Done! Not only do we school 3′ comfortably, but we’ve even shown at that height! This was a huge breakthrough for me and I’m so so so thrilled to finally get over that mental hitch.
  • Make it to a horse show. We’ve made it to two so far this year! They’re tiny little local shows, but that’s perfect for where we are right now. Beautiful facilities, low-key atmosphere, and good sportsmanship.
  • Try a jumper class. Still on the list. I’m hoping to convince my trainer and some of the other riders to try out a local jumper show at the end of April, so fingers crossed that happens!
  • Live through a lesson with no stirrups. Hah. That’s funny. I’ve been terrible about this lately and really need to jump back on the wagon. These legs aren’t going to strengthen themselves!
  • Keep up my confidence. Done, and not done. I’ve stayed brave and positive, and have pushed myself through some bouts of anxiety with great results. But I’ll never be “done” with this; I’m not a naturally brave rider and this will be an ongoing effort!

2.5/5 isn’t too bad! But I’m going to cheat a little and rewrite these. I figure if I’ve already achieved 2 goals and it’s only the first quarter, then I was aiming too low. Now that I have a few show miles under my belt and have a better idea of where we are in our training, here’s my new list of goals:

  • Get comfortable schooling full courses at 3’3″. Why stop at 3′? Pretty Girl and I can both go higher and I know she loves the additional challenge.
  • Jump 3’6″ regularly. Even if it’s just the “out” in a gymnastic, I want to start getting used to the different feel of bigger jumps. Addy seems to clear 3’6″ with no problem, but I’ll be paying close attention to see if this is something she wants to do with me. I’ll need to continuously work on improving my position to make her job as easy as possible.
  • Compete in the Adult Equitation Medal class at least once. Now that I’m OK at 3′, I want to start refining our technique a bit more so I can re-join the eq world. I’ve always enjoyed the technicality of the equitation and I think Addy would really love the chance to show off her moves.
  • Try a jumper class. This is still on there and I still mean it.
  • Make it to an “A” horse show. This is a very tentative goal, and depends on a lot of outside factors. I would need Owner Lady to go as well so we could share expenses- I simply don’t have the spare cash to afford something like this myself. Also between my brother getting married and my other brother welcoming a new baby, there may not be a free weekend for me that lines up with one of the nearby shows. So this is a very tentative goal, but a goal nonetheless!
  • Learn how to braid manes and tails. This kinda ties into making it to an “A” show; if I could save some money by braiding my own horse then it might be a little more feasible. I could potentially even make a few dollars by helping out barnmates. I’ve always been a good braider of human hair, so hopefully I’ll be a quick study!
  • Live through a lesson without stirrups. I will accomplish this! I’m going to the barn today and by golly I am going to push myself on this one.
  • Go on at least one trail ride. For those of you that hack out all the time, I know this is no biggie. But I’ve always gotten very nervous without a ring to contain me! We’ve got some beautiful trails running by the barn and I’d like to get out of my own head and enjoy those with Addy- she’s got such a good brain and I have no doubt she would take great care of me out there.
  • Keep my confidence up. This will never not be a goal.

I’ll check back in on these in a couple months!

What do you guys think of these goals? Any advice on how to go about accomplishing them?