Review Battle Royale: Sunshirt Edition

It was between breeches and sunshirts for this week’s battle royale, and the Patreon group voted for sunshirts, so… sunshirts it is!

And, to be fair, I only own sunshirts that I actually like. If I didn’t like them very much, I got rid of them either a long time ago or before I moved (for instance: the San Soleil and the Piper ones, among many others, did not make the cut). How much I like the ones I have now varies, but they wouldn’t still be in my collection if I hated them. That said, they certainly do not all rank equally in my eyes, and if we’re gonna do a battle royale then it’s time to get brutally honest and perhaps maybe overly critical. Fun! Also yes, these shirts were all paid for with my own money, none were given to me, I’m not receiving anything for these reviews, blah blah blah etc etc standard disclaimer.

Some of the collection, representing al of today’s contending brands. Top row L to R: It’s a Haggerty’s, Dada Sport, Dover, Ariat, Urban Strides. Bottom row L to R: 70 Degrees (performance), Free Ride, 70 Degrees (laser cut), Kastel, Esprit.

It’s a Haggerty’s

This brand made their name by doing custom sunshirts, and that’s exactly why I have one too – we got them made for the sBs inspection way back when Presto was a baby. We did them in sBs colors, which… is a big part of why I don’t wear it much. For as much as I love navy blue, it’s cousin bright-ass-royal-blue is not so much my jam. That’s not the shirt’s fault though. The fabric on these is decent… it feels really nice and silky to the touch but for some reason I don’t find it as cool or breathable as a lot of my others. I also think it runs long in both the arms and the body. They are definitely slim-fitting though, which I like (I wear a medium), and it’s fun that you can order basically anything you want.

Dada Sport

Look, this thing is French and it looks like it. It’s a gorgeous dark navy, it has it’s quirky-yet-simple little logo on the body, a heavy duty gold metal zipper, and fun metal buttons at the cuff that let you know it’s high end. It fits like a glove, because FRENCH (I wear a Small). It’s bougie and it’s high end and you have to love it for those reasons alone. That said, the weight of the fabric is also scaled to what I have to assume is a French summer, and Florida… ain’t that. This one lives in my fall/winter collection instead.

Urban Strides

I got these when they were on clearance for a smokin deal (I have two – blue and burgundy) and they’re quite nice. Not as ULTRA lightweight as some other brands, but definitely still light enough to wear here. The white collar does get dirty (or maybe I just have a particularly disgusting face) but I like the contrasting color stripe at the bust and down the side. Well, I do until I have to figure out what breeches to pair the shirts with and then I get a little stuck thinking there’s too much color going on or things don’t match, because I am the blandest person in the world when it comes to colors. The fit and fabric on these is nice though, and their new styles look equally interesting. I also love that Urban Strides puts little sayings on the arm (the ones I have say “do what you love”), I think it’s a cute little touch. I wear a medium in this brand.

Dover Coolblast

My French blue Dover Coolblast shirt decorated with some after-market Spanish moss

Dover, Dover, Dover. You got these like 80% right. Let’s start with the positives. First, the fabric. It’s really similar to the old school Kastels that I liked so much. It’s light, it’s soft, it’s UPF 100, and it’s great for summer. They come in tons of colors (many admittedly ugly in my color-hating opinion) and patterns (if you’re into that sort of thing). When Dover does their BOGO sales, which they do on a fairly regular basis, the price is very right (the USEF discount stacks, too – last time I got two for $27 each). Let’s talk about the one thing I hate about these: the fit. First of all, their sizing scale… it’s very generous even for American sizing. I wear an XS, and could even go down to XXS – it’s STILL very roomy and boxy in the body. For reference, I am not an actually small woman, I’m 5’6″ with fairly broad shoulders – very average. With these shirts I always have a lot of fabric to tuck in and it doesn’t lay nicely like my better-fitting shirts do. Even the arms are baggy – I always find myself pushing the sleeves up on these (see above photo) when I usually can refrain from doing that with other sunshirts. If you like your shirts baggy and boxy then these are probably your jam, but for me they juuuust miss the mark with that fit.

Esprit Equestrian

To be fair they call this a base layer, not a sun shirt, but it does have SPF 50 and mesh under the arms so it could probably be seen as either. I like the color block design, although wish the white wasn’t in the dirtiest spots on my body. Ok I wish there wasn’t white at all really. It does look nice though with the contrast. For me (I swear the Small) I think it runs quite long in the body so there’s a lot to tuck in (I would hem it a good 3″ shorter), and fabric-wise: believe them when they call this a base layer. It’s definitely too thick for a summer sunshirt. That said it’s pretty cheap at $55 regular price and it looks really good with black pants especially. It lives in my fall-winter shirt collection.

70 Degrees

70 Degrees French Stripe Performance shirt

So I have two different shirts from this brand, the French Stripe Performance Shirt in navy/white and the Laser Cut in gray. Both have really light and silky fabric (it’s right up there among my favorite fabrics) but they’re slightly different. The French Stripe is like your typical sunshirt design with the mesh under the arms. I love the design details of this one, it’s got a nice solid metal zipper, navy at the edge of the collar so it doesn’t show all your face dirt, it’s tagless, has 50+ SPF sun protection… great shirt, super comfortable. I do wish it was cut just sliiiiiightly slimmer in the body but it’s certainly not nearly as baggy as some. I accidentally washed this shirt with something that bled a lot of pink and it was one of the saddest laundry experiences of my life, but I’ve managed to get most of that out and it looks white again. Gold star for that.

The Laser Cut one does not have mesh under the arms but it has little triangle cutouts up the arms, shoulders, neck, and along the back for lots of ventilation. I love this shirt, love the unique styling, and love that the neck doesn’t have seams. It’s slightly less sun protection at 30 SPF. My only complaint about the gray color in particular is that when you sweat and then it dries, it leaves slight sweat marks. They come out when you wash it, but if you plan on running errands or something after the barn and you get particularly sweaty, I’d get it in a different color. Still though, love these shirts and absolutely will buy more (the laser cut comes in a light blue now and I wannit). I wear a small in this brand.

70 Degrees Laser Cut shirt

Free Ride

I can’t find the particular sunshirt I have on their website now, but it was just your basic black sunshirt with glitter mesh under the arms. Black plus glitter… y’all know how I feel about that combination. Looks-wise it’s absolutely stunning. The fit is pretty good, nicely form-fitted, and it’s a good length, not too long or too short. The fabric though is just too heavy for a true southern summer. This one also lives in my “fall/winter” sunshirt section – best when highs are under 80 degrees. Their newer shirts have mesh on the sides too so I’m kind of interested to try those for comparison, since I do like this brand’s fit (I wear a medium).

Ariat Sunstopper

I have that navy and white polka dot one that literally everyone in America has by now I think. The price is right, it’s a cute enough shirt, its UPF 45… hard to go that wrong. I don’t LOVE the fabric, but it’s also cooler than I expected. It feels a little bit scratchy to the touch almost (compared to some of my super silky sunshirts anyway), but air flows through it well. It’s almost… slightly meshy? It feels about how you would expect for the price point, but it does the job, so. How’s that for a review? In reality I don’t wear this one a lot but I couldn’t tell you exactly why… I think because my brain sees polka dots and goes “LOUD PATTERN” even though it’s really not. I do wish it was a little more form fitted so it tucked in without having as much extra fabric around the middle, but it’s not bad. I wear a Small in Ariat.

Kastel Denmark

Heavy Sigh. Look, Kastel was my absolute hands down favorite for YEARS. They had the best fabric for really hot summers – super lightweight and cooling when it got wet. Even with that stupid little blob of fabric under the zipper that never quite sits right (I cut it out of mine), I still dearly love my older Kastel shirts. I know some people didn’t like them because the cuff didn’t allow you to push the sleeves up (I try not to push mine up anyway lest I get more weird tan lines) and yeah the mesh was a little delicate, but… they felt so nice. The problem is that the newer ones just aren’t the same. The fabric is different, the colors and prints are… very much NOT my aesthetic… it’s just been a real disappointment from them lately. I haven’t bought any new ones in years and probably won’t. That said, my old ones are still some of my favorites, even if my Mediums are a little big on me now.

Ok that was maybe a little brutal. Bonus points if you made it this far. Drum roll please for the winner…

70 Degrees!

This one wasn’t easy. Price-point-wise, at least when they’re on sale, Dover is very appealing, but if we take that out of the equation then would I buy them? Probably not. Therefore they certainly can’t be the winner. Their fit just makes me annoyed every single time I put them on and they lack some of the nicer details. I do love my old Kastels, but I also can’t hand them the title when I don’t actually like the newer ones. 70 Degrees, though… they get so many of the pieces right: lovely fabric, good fit, unique styles, attention to detail, small (woman-owned, in the USA) business, etc etc. I’m really looking forward to seeing their brand grow and expand. The price point is very fair, I think, they’re certainly nicer than others in the same price category. I do always find myself reaching for those shirts the most, they just feel so nice to wear and they look good too. When I went through my phone looking for pics for this post, I was wearing a 70 Degrees shirt in most of them. I think that says it all. Deserving win!

Breed.Ride.Compete.’s Official Soft Launch

Midday update: we sold out in an hour! Will let y’all know when we plan on opening up more spots!

It’s the day we (ok, maybe just I) have been waiting for – the official (soft) launch of Breed.Ride.Compete. to the public!

Well, ok… ish. I did buy the domain name and put up a basic website as a placeholder, but it doesn’t have details or any commerce ability yet. We’ve obviously already been providing data to live streams (the Kentucky shoutout was fun!), and we did offer the pdfs and excel spreadsheets of the Kentucky data on Etsy. That went… a lot better than I expected. We’ll be doing the same sort of data for Luhmuhlen, so keep an eye out for that.

BRC is about a lot more than just live stream data though, and I wanted to get started on one of the main offerings that I’m excited about, and probably the thing that’s been most requested: custom pedigree reports. Since we have limited capacity (and don’t want to bite off more than we can chew, so to speak) I thought it would be best to launch all of our offerings in stages and at set quantities. That means, to start out with, we’re only offering 5 custom pedigree reports for the month of June. Once we get a better idea of how time-consuming those end up being, we’ll either offer the same thing in July or open up more spots. What we don’t want to do is open it up completely as a free-for-all and not be able to put out the kind of product that I want. So – better to start small!

To celebrate the official (soft) launch, we’ll also be offering these first 5 at 20% off.

Let’t talk details.

Here’s what we require: For now we are limiting these to thoroughbreds and warmbloods only. If it’s a TB, we only require the registered name. If it’s a warmblood we need either a photo of the papers or a link to the pedigree (it’s possible that we can find the horse without this, but please contact me to check before you pay!)

Here’s what you get: a 3-5 page pdf report with details about your horses ancestors, information on what else they produced, what the bloodlines are known for, any siblings or other related horses of note, photos, etc. These reports are really geared towards riders and owners who aren’t very familiar with the breeding world, interested in knowing more about their horse, but don’t know how or where to do the research (or don’t want to spend hours spiraling into the abyss). If you have any follow-up questions related to any of the information in your report, we’ll be happy to discuss those with you too!

And the fine print: If for whatever reason we are unable to gather enough data to complete a satisfactory report, we will issue a refund. We will complete these on a first come, first served basis, with the expectation of having all 5 completed in the month of June.

Since we don’t have the commerce part of the website up yet, we’ll sell these 5 spots through our Etsy account here. Thanks for the support, we’re excited to kick things off!

Also keep an eye out on the BRC facebook and instagram pages, we’ll be doing some fun giveaways this summer (we hope you like swag)…

Take Your Pick

I was thinking last week about how different all three of my horses are.

I don’t mean different like “different” but that works too

They have some similarities, to be sure. They’re all blood horses, all are pretty forward-thinking, and all are sensitive. Some more than others. Certainly none of them are heavy, plodder, kick-ride types, though. Thank goodness because those are not my jam. That’s about where the similarities stop though, since all three of them are in different stages of training, working on different things, and need/want to be ridden in different ways. It’s been such a long time since I had this many horses to work on a regular basis, it’s been fun for me to have to be more adaptable. I get bored easily, but it’s pretty hard to be bored when you’re juggling three horses that are so different.

The spanish moss keeps attacking me

Henry is like slipping into your favorite slippers, he’s so familiar and feels like “home”. I know him better than I know myself, really, and we’re very tuned into each other. Especially when we’re jumping – I just think something and he does it. He’s the most trained, the most been-there-done-that, the most reliable, and probably the simplest of the bunch. Makes sense, he’s got 10 years on the other two. This makes him fun though, because he doesn’t require quite as much brain power as the others. I can hack him out on the buckle without a second thought, I can set up whatever weird jump exercises I can imagine, etc etc. Plus he really doesn’t care what kind of headspace you’re in – he’s the same horse every time. Granted, riding him is a constant effort of putting him together and trying to ride him more uphill. He’s simple, but he’s not necessarily easy due to his conformation. I mean, if you want to just sit up there in 2 point and float the reins at him he’s happy to roll peanuts all day long, but… we try to do things properly and keep him fit and strong and working correctly. That’s a bit of a job.

Presto is… a lot different. Both physically and mentally. First of all he’s a big narrow lanky horse. A big narrow lanky LONG horse. It’s very far from that little walnut size brain to his hind feet. Despite his size though, he’s quite light and maneuverable and balanced. Sometimes he’s almost a little TOO light though, and if you ride him with much hand (like… more than a teeny bit) he does not like it at all. He wants to be ridden 98% from your core and your seat and your leg. If you can do that, he carries himself quite nicely for such a big horse. If you can’t do that, or if you resort to your reins when you should have used your core or seat or leg, he will let you know immediately by rooting your ass out of the tack then flinging his poll at your nose. Subtle as always, Presto.

whaaaaaat? I would never.

You have to be deliberate and make sure that your hands are just kind of there in one spot, while using your body and leg to actually ask for everything. When you get it right he gives you a lovely feeling, like… SO NICE. You’re just floating. Boy is he ever a core workout though. Like your abs will be throbbing by the time you’re done. His gaits are big and lofty and you have to have decent body strength in order to stay with him. You also have to be very mentally present. If you only show up with 50%, he’s probably going to take advantage of that. He’s still young and mentally immature, and… well, he’s Presto. He’s not exactly the most serious, studious, focused horse in the world. You have to be the leader and the boundary setter, and you have to insist that that’s your role, not his. If you do that, he’s great. I actually really love riding him, he’s constantly making me think and do better and have more finesse. He finds his job to be quite easy and will jump anything you put in his path although he’ll try to do it his way. He’s certainly not the one you would pick if you want a leisurely carefree hack around, though. He’s work and you have to be a step ahead of him, but he’s the kind of horse that will definitely make you a better, more educated rider.

Then there’s Gemma, the greenest of the bunch. I will admit though, as green as she is, she learns SO FAST that I think she’s really fun and rewarding to ride. I mean at this point she’s had about 2 months of post-track rides and she already goes around like this.

She puts more weight in the contact than Presto does (but not as much as Henry) and seems to find comfort in it. She’s also really responsive to seat and leg aids. Sort of a mix between Presto and Henry I guess. I feel like a dressage rider would love her because she just gets the flatwork so quickly and finds it pretty easy. She’s at the point where you can start asking for more – more forward, more bend, more suppleness, more quality in her gaits. Her leg yield and shoulder-in are pretty darn decent. The transitions are still… abrupt (she may have missed her calling as a reiner) but they get better day by day. Gemma is physically a bit polar opposite of Presto – she’s a hand shorter and much more compact, so she’s pretty easy to sit and not hard to put together.

What I really like about her – and what I really like about thoroughbreds in general – is that she always shows up to work and she always tries. She’s sensitive, but not stupid or explosive. She does have a pretty strong sense of justice though, and if you ask for something too harshly (in her opinion) she isn’t shy about pinning those ears and making a nasty mare face. There will be no guessing how Gemma feels about anything ever. To hack out she’s pretty solid – she might look at something but she’s never belligerent or stupid. Gemma hacks down the road better than Presto does, honestly (Presto is always looking for reasons to be silly, which should surprise precisely no one). I still haven’t jumped her a lot but she does poles and cavalettis basically every ride, and she’s starting to understand how to use her body more, and where to put her feet. She’s pretty darn honest to the jumps, too. Sometimes has absolutely no idea what to do with her body and flings herself into the air like a deer (gymnastics will be the name of the game with her I think), but she definitely jumps whatever I point her at.

I think all together they make a pretty good mix. Each of them is a totally unique ride, working on different things and making me think in different ways. It keeps things interesting, that’s for sure. And if you’re gonna have two 5yo’s, having a Henry there to offset them is definitely the way to go.

Which one do you think you’d like to ride the most?

Foal Friday: Say Cheese (er… Queso?)

Poor little baby Quinlee aka Quesadilla aka Queso has also added the nickname “Cheese” to her growing repertoire of titles. Which, to be fair, Cheese suits her just fine. Exhibit A:


She thinks she’s a supermodel and loves to go around posing for pictures, ears perked and giving the camera her best little baby horse smolder. Cheese definitely isn’t lacking in the self-confidence department. I mean look at her.

did you get the picture, human?
make sure you get all the angles and lighting, human, so I can pick my favorite

If she was a person I think she’d be one of those Instagram models that spends all day taking 100 selfies to find just the right one to post.

gotta get the booty angle, booties are all the rage these days

She even manages to look like she’s posing as she (very deliberately, I suspect) runs back and forth past the camera. Hopefully this means that she’ll grow up to be one of those horses that always has great horse show pictures with a perfect expression and textbook form.

make sure you get my good side, human!
just kidding, every side is my good side, DUH

She’s such a ham. Ham and cheese? Oh no, the nicknames just keep coming.

I also want to congratulate Samantha P. of Maine on her purchase of Quinlee Quesadilla Queso Cheese! It’s always exciting when the foals find perfect homes and we think this one is a great match.

Happy Friday!

Review Battle Royale: Glove edition

Welcome to a new series of review posts! I had a few people wanting me to bring back more product reviews, but truth be told they’re really my least favorite posts to write. So to make it a little more fun for me (and hopefully maybe for you too) I decided to put a little twist on it. Instead of just a single product, I’ll go over every product I have within said category, compare and contrast them with each other ruthlessly, and then pick a favorite. We’ll do that once a week until I, uh… run out of categories I guess. Hopefully this makes it a little more interesting than having to write or read a whole blog post about just one item.

this pic doesn’t necessarily have much to do with the post but Henry is so friggin cute and that’s the only reasoning I need

So let’s kick it off with what I consider to be an important item, and one that I’m really weirdly picky about: gloves.

Ego7 Air Mesh Gloves

These are the newest addition to the collection so I might be able to comment a whole lot on longevity yet, but I still have plenty of thoughts. I bought these because I really wanted a mesh-back glove for the summer (in all honesty I went looking for the Roeckl Laila but 1. no one had them in my size at the time and 2. I was a little worried about those being durable enough for me, I am a bit rough and tumble). These Ego7 gloves are maybe a little more substantial than I was after with a true everyday summer glove… they come down farther on my wrist (some people might like that, I find it a little annoying), aren’t fully mesh on the back, and have a double reinforced rein area on the palm/fingers. It does make me think that they’ll last, they’re pretty rugged, but it’s not quite as light of a feeling as I was going for in the Florida summer. I will say that their touchscreen capability is probably the best of my particular bunch though. If you have long fingers I think they run small – I usually wear an 8, sometimes 8.5, but I had to size up to a 9 in these to get enough length in the fingers. I feel like these are a good summer show glove but maybe not the best summer everyday glove (at least not for people that live in super hot/humid places).

Sweet Iron Co Second Skin Gloves

I’ve talked about this Australian company and their gloves on here before – the skull ones have been my go-to cross country gloves. Lately though I’ve found myself gravitating to them more and more for every day. The palm material is similar-feeling to Roeckl and the top is a pretty thin stretch Lycra. They’re comfortable and slim-fitting, not bulky, and don’t feel too thick. I like that they have so much stretch to the material, they’re very easy to pull on and off and comfortable to wear. They work decently well on a phone screen and dry pretty well overnight, AND they don’t dry stiff/crunchy like some of the other Roeckl type materials do. To be totally honest though the real selling point of these for me is the skulls. I just love them, they bring me joy. I have these gloves in both the navy skulls and the black skulls, although they come in solid colors too. Aside from the aesthetics they are truly pretty solid gloves in their own right, but the skulls just give them that little extra bit of fun for me that elevates them. I also think their longevity is pretty impressive, I’ve been using my older pair on and off for like 4 years (I tend to rotate my gloves by season) and they’re just now starting to get worn in the fingers. I’ve tossed them in the wash a couple times and they seem to survive that just fine and come out looking clean again.

Woof Wear Event Gloves

These are quite possibly one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever purchased. I was SO excited when I found them because they’re super lightweight, cut shorter at the wrist, the material on the back is really breathable and thin, and they were under $30. They feel GREAT to wear too, especially in the summer heat. However… boy did they shit the bed real quick. See all those black flakes on my wrist? That’s the edge material just flaking right off, and I’d only worn them maybe 5 times when that started happening. It’s a real bummer because gah I can’t even wear them without having little black flakes stuck all over my arms. Basically garbage. Womp womp. I guess the price really was too good to be true.

RSL Rider’s Touch Malibu Gloves

These are, to be honest, perhaps my most confusing gloves. If you think they look green, you’re not wrong. They look real olivey. However, they’re listed as being gray and navy. If you put them right next to something true green they do look more gray, but otherwise they just look like a strange green. I don’t hate it, I just wouldn’t necessarily choose it. The fit is also a little strange, it’s like they assume that if you have long fingers you also must have very thick fingers and a very large palm, because I certainly don’t have small hands yet have a ton of extra room in these. They come so far down my wrist that they cover my watch almost completely. If you like looser fitting gloves or have thicc fingers then maybe you’d like the fit of these, but it’s not my jam. They just feel really baggy. The quality seems fine though, and they’re not a bad price. The material on the back of the hand could be lighter weight too, if I’m being picky. All in all they’re just… fine. I almost never reach for these out of the pile but there’s nothing terrible about them either.

Epplejeck Shine Gloves

Look, did I buy these purely because they’re navy glitter? Of course I did. They were cheap and I won’t feel shame about that. Really I got them to wear at shows and I think I’ve only worn them once so far. Are they great? No. Can I complain too much for $15? Absolutely not. They wouldn’t be the gloves I’d buy and expect to wear every day for a year but they’re definitely fun and nicer than I was expecting for the price. They’re kind of a Roeckl-style dupe just with cheaper materials and perhaps lower quality execution, but they’ve got glitter, so…

Roeckl Lona gloves

Speaking of Roeckl’s, yep I have some of those too… I think everyone has some model of Roeckls. When it comes to fit I do think they’re the best of the lot. They have room where there should be room, and they’re fitted where they should be fitted. The material is fairly lightweight and they’re not too bulky. I do think the longevity is a bit meh considering the price (at least if you use rubber reins like I do) but they do have some decent color options that make them a bit more fun than just your standard black or navy. I don’t think this particular model is as breathable as I would prefer, and they take longer to dry than some of my others, plus they can be kinda stiff when they get super saturated (which is like daily for me) and then dry. They’re one of those that I’d buy repeatedly on sale but not for full price.

So – where would I rank them? Who wins this particular battle royale?

It’s a close one for me, but in the end it’s gotta be the skull gloves. They’re comfortable, they fit well, they’re about middle of the road price-wise, and they’re just really damn fun. I get comments on them all the time, and they make me happier than any gloves truly should. Most importantly though they’re functional (grippy and phone screen friendly), they’ve had pretty good longevity for me, and they seem capable of standing up to my lifestyle of rubber reins and machine washing. I find myself reaching for them every day and kind of have to force myself to chose other ones… that’s probably the most telling factor.

Hope you like this new little series! Let me know what item you’d like to see go head-to-head next week.