Mini reviews

One of nice things about working at a tack store is that I get a discount on everything it sells. (Except saddles which are on consignment, obviously.) One of the terrible things about working at a tack store is that I get a discount on everything it sells.

I’ve made a lot of purchases over the last year and half- some of them were definitely needs, like new breeches and a new helmet. Some of them were completely superfluous, like saddle pads and festive scarves. Most of them don’t merit their own review post, but I thought I’d share some of my most and least favorite purchases of the last year or so!

Toklat T3 Matrix CoolBack Half Pad with Pro-Impact Inserts

Moe models the half pad.

I bought this primarily to use on Moe under my dressage saddle; barn owner had mentioned to me that he seemed more comfortable in a half-pad during his lessons. (I don’t typically use them.) I like this pad because of the Pro-Impact Inserts; they’re a very thin, light high density open cell foam that absorbs energy super, super well. (There’s a whole YouTube channel dedicated to the material!) Moe seems much more comfortable with this half pad than he did without a pad, with a gel pad, or with an all-fleece half pad. I’ve used it on Gina, too, who seems slightly less stiff in her back with this pad under the saddle.
MSRP: $174.95
Is it worth full retail? Yes, I think so. While it’s expensive, it is well constructed and does its job perfectly.

Horze Anti-Slip Gel Pad

This was my first solution to the Moe-needs-a-half-pad problem; I’d had good luck with gel pads in the past and I knew this thin pad wouldn’t change the fit of the saddle much. It didn’t make a difference on Moe, so I decided to test its non-slip properties on a hunt with Gina. I always hunt with her with a 5-point breastplate, but my saddle would still move around a little as we traveled over the hilly terrain. Since adding this thing to our hunting equipment, my saddle hasn’t budged. It’s worn under the saddle pad, so you can’t see it at all. It’s a great solution if you have a slippery horse! (Or if your favorite saddle pad is slippery.)
MSRP: $47.95
Is it worth full retail? Definitely, although Horze frequently has sales and coupons available that would allow you to save a little.

Essex Classics “Adagio” Talent Yarn Shirt

No pearl snaps to be seen!
No pearl snaps to be seen!

The link actually goes to Essex’s newer “Lido” shirt, which is basically the same thing with different collar patterns; regardless, I bought this white shirt for foxhunting, because I didn’t have a long-sleeved white shirt. The technical fabric was appealing, as was the pullover style. It’s a comfortable shirt and has kept me cool under my heavy wool blend hunt coat. I always get compliments on the contrast trim (which is green paisley). I like the pearl snaps- I think they’re fun, and they’re covered by my stock tie anyway. It washes up great, too. I’ve had mud, champagne, and horse boogers come out in the wash without any special treatment.
MSRP: $124.95
Is it worth full retail? Yes. It’s a great shirt that’s comfortable, stylish, and durable!

Ariat Heritage Contour Field Zip

Straight out of the box.
Straight out of the box.

I’ve had these boots for about a year, and they’re my primary footwear at the barn. I use them for schooling and show. They’re extremely comfortable, and I’ve been very happy with their durability. They’re a nice looking boot and the extra-wide calf option fits my 17.5″ calves very well. My only complaint is that the extra-wide calf is only available in a medium height; these aren’t terribly short on me, but they’ve dropped a little more than I’d like. Regardless, they’re a nice boot and a nice price. (I am thinking very hard about getting a brown pair.)
MSRP: $289.95
Is it worth full retail? Oh yeah, these are worth every penny, especially since finding attractive wide-calf boots can be difficult.

Belvoir Tack Cleaner Wipes

I bought these thinking I’d use them at shows to wipe off travel dust and at home to give my tack a quick swipe before leaving. They’re next to useless; they don’t do a good job of removing any kind of dirt and forget trying to clean anything truly grimy.
MSRP: $12.95
Is it worth full retail? Nope. You’re better off with a tack sponge and some spray.

Ovation Cool-Rider Zip Mock

It’s hotter than hell in Oklahoma throughout the summer, so when our Ovation vendor had certain colors of this shirt on super-sale, I snapped one up, thinking I would enjoy cool, dry summer rides. While the shirt does an okay job of wicking sweat and does have nice mesh undersleeves, everything else about it is a mess. The fabric is kind of thick, the zipper sticks, and the fit is awful. I am 5’9, and this shirt barely hits the top of my hip. I couldn’t tuck it in if I wanted to. The sleeves are also short, which means it fits my T-Rex arms just fine, but the cuffs are thick and closely fitted, making them uncomfortable and impossible to push up. It also runs fairly small- much smaller than other Ovation shirts I’ve tried on. Don’t waste your money on this. There are nicer sun shirts out there for a few bucks more.
MSRP: $39.95
Is it worth full retail? God no. It wasn’t worth the ~$15 I paid for it!

How about y’all? Tried anything lately that you love/hate but doesn’t merit a full review?

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

17 thoughts on “Mini reviews”

  1. I really, REALLY wanted to love those Ariat Heritage tall boots because they’re more affordable than customs and had heard (and read) that their wide-calf model fit most wide-calf people. My calves are 17.5″ but sadly, I couldn’t get the zipper all the way up so they got returned 🙁 I hate that they don’t fit because the brown version of them is gorgeous!

    1. I will say that the zipper on my right boot (my slightly wider calf) *does* slip down sometimes when I’m riding. It’s kind of annoying, but not a deal breaker for me.

    2. I love the Ariat Heritage Contour Field boots. I have very wide calves and until I found these I had almost given up hope of finding non-custom tall boots to fit me. My calves are actually a bit wider than 17.5″ and when I tried them in the store I couldn’t zip them all the way up (when wearing my standard breeches). However I found that I could *just* zip them up if I wore them without breeches but with slippery boot socks. It wasn’t comfortable wearing them against my bare legs like this but I spent the whole drive home (5 hours) and the next week wearing them inside with just shorts and boots and they stretched just enough to wear with breeches. The fit comfortably now so don’t give up hope!

  2. I had a pair of the Heritage boots that I loved, room mate’s dogs ate them, bought a newer model, and I hated them. They stayed stiff, they broke down too much, they weren’t very fitted, and they rubbed my ankles every time I wore them. I’ve seen some positive reviews like yours lately, so maybe the current model is significantly improved. It’s also possible they just don’t accommodate narrow calves well. I can’t say I’ve tried the wipes, but the Belvoir spray is like magic! If my boots are a little dusty before going into the ring, I give them a quick spray and wipe, and you can’t even tell they were dirty.

    1. That sucks to hear about your Ariat boots! I’d read a lot about the quality declining, so I was a little nervous about how these would hold up. I’ve been pleasantly surprised, so maybe they’ve improved since you had them? Or you could absolutely be correct that they don’t accommodate narrow calves well.

  3. I have the same boots as you though my opinion is that they’re the devil and as uncomfortable as hell. Nonetheless, they were the best boots I could find with an XW calf without going custom so I like them for that. I worse them a bunch to get them worn in and then stopped entirely as I don’t want them getting beat up. I plan to just use them for shows and maybe a lesson or two before the show to get used to them.

    1. It’s crazy how the same boot can vary so much in how it fits (even when people are wearing the same size)! I feel like mine are very comfortable unless I wear them for 12+ hours- then the zippers start to rub on the back of my ankles. Hopefully yours won’t be too horrible for just shows!

    2. I thought this about my show boots when I got them. And since they were ridiculously expensive I was afraid to do anything drastic to them. But finally I just turned the hose on them (with warm water) got them soaked and rode two horses. They were dry by the time I was finished, and have been super comfy ever since. It’s probably not recommended, but it didn’t do any damage. Might be worth a shot if you can’t take it anymore!

  4. Working at a tack store is the worst 🙂 The lines between needs and wants/super-super-savings-how-can-i-not-buy-them is very, very thin.

  5. I really like my Matrix English half pad, and I have the western full pad too. Both get two thumbs up from me. I do kind of wish that I had gotten the heavier duty inserts in my western pad as the memory foam squishes pretty flat and I need a bit more padding. Oh well. One of my favorite features of these pads is that they are machine washable. I also have the same Ariat boots, several years in and they are still going strong. They were suppose to be my just for shows and lessons boots, but I find myself wearing them a lot more frequently than that. The toes are looking pretty gray at this point, but other than that they holding up beautifully.

  6. I’m obsessed with the Tuffrider Regal tall boots. Though they had their time in the spotlight on my blog when I compared them to my Parlanti’s, so maybe that’s not really answering your question…
    Have to agree about the Essex shirts. I have no idea which version I have, but they are talent yarn. Very comfy, and I like how the collar fits. I have a giraffe neck that is probably the only skinny part of my body. A lot of shirts have collars that gap on me, but these fit well. Found mine on Tack of the Day for around $40, so total win! Maybe I bought 4 of them…
    My last thing to rave about is my ridiculously expensive Samshield. I didn’t get the hype, but jumped on the bandwagon after a particularly long stretch of not being able to ride due to winter. (Retail therapy helps with the not riding blues, right? Scientifically proven, yes?) I love that helmet. Worth every penny. It’s so comfortable, I forget it’s even on, and the ventilation on it is unlike any helmet I’ve worn prior.
    Something I wouldn’t spend money on again? Probably the Red Barn bridles. They look pretty, but apparently they’re made from bonded leather. So when you oil them, the adhesive breaks down and leaves you with a very sticky bridle. Ick.

  7. Have you seen the Heritage Ellipse? Sadly they don’t come in an XW so they’re out for me too. Agree that it would be great to XWT- so hopefully there is starting to be the demand for the XW that will prompt additional sizing.

    I would just add for the group that Ariat updated the Heritage Contour in Spring of 2013- slimmer ankle, updated leathers, reinforced zipper….just wanted to give that shoutout since we know the prior generation wasn’t up to snuff.

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