Product Review: Horze Grand Prix breeches

I’ve done some serious upgrading on my breech wardrobe in the last year. I’ve tried Kerrits, Montar, and SmartPak’s Piper line, but the best breech I’ve acquired is Horze’s Grand Prix knee patch breech. They’re the most durable and most comfortable breech I’ve ever owned.

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I picked mine up during a close-out sale last year for about $20; they’re an old model with Velcro closures at the ankle instead of svelte new elastic bottoms but are otherwise identical to the current model.

They’re made from a tough fabric that’s thick enough to smooth lumps and bumps while offering enough stretch to be comfortable and form-fitting. The fabric practically repels dust and dirt; anything that doesn’t brush off immediately (like liquids) comes out in the wash.

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Comfortable in the saddle.

The Grand Prix breeches have a moderately high waist. There’s never any worry about them slipping down enough to reveal undies or cause a shirt to become untucked. On me, the crotch fits a little funny, but it’s fine in the saddle and isn’t inappropriate on the ground- just sort of unflattering.

Even in a regular length, these breeches are plenty long. I’m 5’9 (although my legs are fairly stubby) and the regular length falls squarely at my ankle. Horze offers this style in a long length, too, for the leggy among us.

These breeches also have great front pockets- they’re big enough to hold a smartphone or a couple of horse treats. The euroseat styling is on-trend and mostly flattering, as is the wide waistband.

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Excellent for lounging around in shipping, as one does.

The stitching is tight and flat throughout, and the zipper and hook closures are sturdy. Overall, they’re an extremely well made breech that’s hard-wearing and durable. They’re available in several colors appropriate for both schooling and show. My pair is steel gray, which is a pleasant medium gray color that matches every color of shirt I own.

The Grand Prix breech has a size run of US 22-34 in both regular and long lengths. They run a little generous; if you’re between sizes, I’d recommend going down. With an MSRP of $112.95, I think they’re a good value, but if that’s out of your price range, just wait. Horze frequently has sales and offers coupons.

I love these breeches, and they’ve held up better than any other brand I own. You can bet that once my self-imposed spending moratorium is overturned, I’ll be adding more to my collection!

Product review: Mrs. Conn’s Bath Day sponges

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When I opened my May and June Horse Boxes and found shampoo-filled sponges from Mrs. Conn’s Bath Day, I squealed like a small child. I’d seen the sponges on various equestrian social media channels and couldn’t wait to try them, mostly because they’re so freaking cute.

I received a Dazzle-Berry pony pod and an Oatmeal sponge; the pony pod is roughly 3/4 the size of the sponge, but is functionally the same.

Because Gina is very obviously a princess, I elected to use the Dazzle-Berry pony pod on her. The sponge itself smells great. Dazzle-Berry basically smells like your favorite Bonnie Bell lip balm from sixth grade. Gina was neither impressed nor disturbed by the smell. It foams well with just a little water, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much lather it generated. The lather rinsed off easily, and left Gina looking shiny and smooth. I was especially impressed with how white her socks looked. The scent didn’t linger, so for all of you out there who don’t want your horse to smell like a Lisa Frank picture, you’re safe.

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Since the initial bath, I’ve used the Dazzle-Berry pony pod four more times, and it doesn’t show any signs of running out of shampoo. It’s a little difficult finding a suitable place to let it dry- I don’t want it to get extra dirty, or mildew-y and gross. I settled for placing it on its edge on my tack trunk; that seems to do nicely. I wish it had a loop, like many human bath sponges do- then it could hang somewhere!

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After using the pony pod, I think I’m a shampoo-filled sponge convert. It’s a lot cleaner and more pleasant than dipping a big sponge in and out of a shampoo-filled bucket; I can’t be the only one who hates it when soapy water from a big wet sponge runs down your arm and into your armpit. Mrs. Conn’s is also an environmentally-conscious company, which I appreciate. Their shampoo formulas don’t contain any harsh detergents or parabens, and once you’re done with the sponge, it can be composted! It’s nice to find a product that works well and plays nice with the earth.

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Effectiveness: 5/5, Gina and Moe have been clean and shiny post-bath
Value: 4/5, pony pods can be purchased for $5; regular sponges for $10. It’s a good value, but if price is important to you, you can find more economical choices in many traditional shampoos that you dilute in water.
Overall: 4/5, these are an innovative and interesting product that are more environmentally-friendly than most, moderately priced, and super cute. My only complaint is the lack of a loop to hang it.

What do y’all use for bathing? Have you tried Mrs. Conn’s?

Product Review: Champion Sports Bra

I received my prize pack from Fit Bottomed Girls a few weeks ago (you know, from when Gina won it for me) and one of the things included was a sports bra. Excitement!

Now, I am a busty lady; I wear a 38DD. I also have slopey shoulders which means that bra straps (sports bras and regular bras alike) sometimes slide down my shoulders more than is comfortable. I’ve found a great regular bra in Victoria’s Secret’s Body by Victoria line, but I’ve struggled to find a sports bra that fit well while minimizing bounce. Because let me tell you, I have a lot of bounce. I’ve been getting by with these reasonably priced Old Navy bras; they’re fine, but after a high impact workout like jogging or sitting trot for more than five minutes, my boobs don’t feel great.

The bra I won is the Champion All-Out Support Wireless Sports Bra. Just take a look at this bad boy.

Front

Back

It clearly means business. The bra proclaims it has “the support of 2 sports bras/the comfort of 1”, which for me is kind of moot; I’ve never tried wearing two sports bras at once. (Maybe I should?) It’s also “engineered to beat the bounce during your most intense workout” (their emphasis, not mine). Suggested sports include running, basketball, and aerobics.


The straps are wide and adjustable, which is great for my weird shoulders. The back has hook closures like you’d find on a regular bra, and while it’s wireless, the bottom band is a thick, wide fabric without a lot of give. You can’t tell from the top picture, but the bra actually kind of looks like two bras sewn together. (For a better picture, go to their website.) That’s weird, but whatever.

I was super excited to try this thing out. So I put it on. Well. “Wiggled into it” is a more accurate description of what I did. The band at the bottom is very stiff fabric that maybe stretches half an inch. That’s great when it’s on and keeping your boobs in place, but it makes pulling the bra over your head and shoulders difficult, even with the hooks unbuckled. Once I had successfully put on the bra, I spent a couple of minutes tugging it down and stuffing my boobs in it.

The sides of the bra are fairly low-cut, which means some armpit fat tried to escape over the top. Unflattering, but not uncomfortable and essentially no big deal as I always wear a shirt when I ride.

As for support: should I ever need to pass as a man for a Halloween costume or bank robbery, I will wear this bra. It squashes my boobs down to near-nothingness. That’s kind of impressive; however, if you’re not into the uni-boob look, this is not the bra for you.

As far as performance goes, I have zero complaints. I’ve ridden in it several times at all gaits. (I have not jumped in it.) It definitely minimizes/nearly eliminates bounce. It isn’t hot or overly uncomfortable and it certainly makes button-front shirts fit better.

I have no idea what its care instructions are. I’ve washed it a few times in cold water with my other undergarments and dried it on low heat; it’s held up just fine with no stretching or shrinking.

Champion All-Out Support Wireless Sports Bra
Sizing: 4/5; I thought it ran a bit small, but that could just be lack of give in the band.
Comfort: 4/5
Durability: 5/5Value: 4/5; While I received this bra for free as a prize, it runs about $35. I’m still adjusting to the idea of paying more than $10 for a sports bra, but compared to similar bras, this price point seems reasonable.
Cool Factor: 3/5; It looks pretty cool by itself, and would probably look pretty cool on a more muscular or fitter person. For your average, somewhat overweight, haven’t-seen-the-sun-in-months white woman, I would definitely recommend wearing a shirt over it. 

Product Review: Hunter Original Tall Rain Boots

About two years ago, everyone I knew gave me a Dover Saddlery gift certificate for Christmas. I pooled the gift cards and purchased a pair of Hunter Original Tall Rain Boots. I’d read on various blogs about how great the boots were- durable, comfortable, even a little stylish! I was excited to have a good pair of mud boots to wear out to the barn; my poor cowboy boots were taking a lot of abuse and my last pair of cheap rain boots had finally sprung a leak.

Imagine my crushing disappointment, then, when my lovely boots arrived and were too narrow for my calves! I have fairly wide calves; all of my riding boots are wide or extra wide. However, I wasn’t expecting a pair of rubber rain boots to be narrow enough that my boyfriend’s arm could barely fit in them. Rain boots are meant to be worn, presumably, outside pants like jeans. With socks. Unlike breeches, which are form fitting, jeans can add some extra bulk to a leg. I was absolutely crushed. I didn’t return the boots; instead, I shoved them under my bed (like an adult), brought them out periodically, and whimpered in sadness when they still didn’t fit onto my bare legs.

Now, let me deter the review for a moment to gripe about Dover’s website. I can’t find the Hunter boots on their website at the moment, but I assure you that two years ago, they were there. Dover also lacked a size chart for the boots, or any notation that the men’s and women’s boots weren’t sized differently in the calf. (My boots actually have “Men’s Size 8/Women’s Size 9” printed on the inside.) So when I ordered the boots, I ordered a men’s size 8 in hopes the calf would be more generous. I never returned the boots because I didn’t want to order an alternative boot and was still somewhat miffed over the glove incident. Hunter’s website at the time didn’t list calf sizes; happily, it currently does.

Anyway. Fast forward to about a month ago. Rainy season is upon us in Oklahoma; the barn where my horses live has terrible drainage, as does my workplace. I am dreading another winter of muddy, wet cowboy boots. I dream of grossly expensive Dubarrys. I notice my jeans are a little looser than they used to be, so because I am a glutton for punishment, I drag the Hunters from under my bed and attempt to shove my oversized calves inside. They fit. They fit. Not in that glamorous loose way that pretty people in style blogs wear them, but in a kind of tight but functional way. A victorious way. (How’d I lose weight, you ask? No idea; I eat a lot of vegetables and tofu and walk approximately 20,000 steps a day.)

Now that my Hunters fit (only under skinny jeans, mind you), I wear them any time the weather is wet. And that’s been pretty frequently over the last month or so.

Genuine Hunters, aren’t I cool?

They are very comfortable; I am regularly on my feet and moving in my boots from about 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM. I teach riding lessons in them, muck stalls in them, and walk horses to and from pastures in them.

Side view from the manure pile.

The buckles on the outside of the boots are solely decorative. They do not adjust the fit of the boot. The buckle on the left boot tore off while I was tugging the boot on one day; it has not affected me whatsoever. 

Good in manure.

The rubber is pliable and flexible, which is nice. I can sit at my desk and drive my car without the ankle area of the boot irritating me.

Good in mud.

While the shaft of the boot is fairly narrow, the foot of the boot is very roomy. I have plenty of room to wiggle my toes and can wear my thickest wool socks without a problem.

Good underwater.
The boots have no lining, so when my feet get cold, they stay cold. I recommend wearing thick socks if you’re going to be slogging through a significant amount of water or snow. 
Dirty boots.

Hunter Original Tall Rain Boots
Sizing: Foot roomy; shaft narrow.
Comfort: 5/5
Durability: 4/5; I feel like the buckle that popped off shouldn’t have popped off.
Value: 3/5; while these are a good, solid pair of rain boots, they also cost around $100. My last pair of cheap rainboots was $25 and lasted for about three years. By that standard, these boots need to last me more than 12 years!
Cool Factor: 5/5; I’ve gotten compliments on them from random strangers at my favorite sandwich place, so that makes them pretty cool in my book.

What do y’all do for rain boots? Hunters? Another brand? Has anyone tried the wider-calf Hunter boot, the Huntress?