Review: Vantage Equestrian Lifestyle

This is probably not the first time that many of you are reading about this brand. Some other bloggers have already reviewed a couple of items, mostly because they’re more timely and on top of things than I am. That and I have this strong desire to try my best to absolutely beat the crap out of something before I review it. I used to work in Quality Assurance, after all, where I literally got paid to try to break things (ironic twist: now I get paid to fix things…).

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I’m also albino?

I’ve had my Vantage Equestrian Cross Country t-shirt since June, and have worn it quite a bit. I’ve ridden in it, worn it to work, worn it out and about in the real world, and washed/dried it a bunch.

Even though it’s “just” a t-shirt, I’m still as picky about it as I am about anything else. I want a good fit (not too tight but not too baggy), I want it to be comfortable, soft, wash well, and I want the graphics to be long-lasting. I don’t want it to fade or have threads coming out after just a few washes, and I definitely won’t buy a shirt that is boxy or feels cheap. Plus we’ve all seen the gross after effects of cheap screen printing – no one wants cracked, peeling graphics . Vantage uses American Apparel women’s cut shirts for the shirt I picked (some other designs offer the unisex cut, if you prefer that) so I’ve been quite happy with it. It’s soft and fits nicely and the lettering is still holding up perfectly despite my abuse. So far, so good!

Design wise, I think the Cross Country shirt is pretty cute, and they also offer hunter and dressage versions of it as well. I like watching non-horse people try to figure out why the hell I like ditches and coffins and banks so much, and what the hell they could all possibly have in common. For this reason, wearing it to work is my favorite, because confusing people is fun.

Aside from t-shirts, Vantage also has pillows, mugs, and some Lainey Ashker merch. Their stuff would make cute, inexpensive gifts, or a fun little Treat Yo’self item if you’re looking to meet your retail therapy quota without spending a lot of money. Everyone needs more horse stuff.

I also happened to notice that when you access their homepage there’s an opportunity for 15% off if you follow them on facebook or Insta. Just sayin…

It’s not all bad

That’s a lie, it’s all bad. I’m bored and aimless with no Henny to ride and play with. Time is going by so slowly that I’m pretty sure it’s going backwards. But I have some really awesome friends who have offered me rides, and I’m slowly working my way through them. Starting with Violet of course, who’s owner is quite brave to let me ride her even after I confessed to the world that I wanted to steal her.

Some awesome blogger friends also sent me a great little “please don’t go any crazier than you already are” package… some coloring books, a kindle gift card, and a cookbook. Just coloring cuss words is fairly therapeutic.


The cookbook was timely, because I had even started cooking a few things. Mainly cookies, because cookies make me temporarily happier. That seemed like a lot of mess for so little reward, though. I mean, I can just go to the store and buy some Oreos for $3, no mess required. The cookbook has some fancy ideas (and all vegetarian!) that I might try to tackle this weekend, though… probably way better than whatever random crap I googled in a moment of desperation. Hopefully I don’t burn the house down.

One afternoon I also went to an actual human store and bought actual human non-riding clothes. But I only got two shirts (that were on deep discount) because who wants to spend money on non-riding clothes? What’s the point? That was a boring 15 minutes. I don’t know how people get all excited about shopping when the store literally has nothing horse related in it.

Having nowhere to be in the afternoons does free me up for a different type of riding, though. My bike has been seeing a lot more activity, which is good, because see above about cookies.

Hello again, old friend

I also went and did a really dumb thing and agreed to run a half marathon in January. I’ve been running again for the past couple months now (like 5k three times a week) so I figured why not… I don’t exactly have a lot else to do for the next couple months, and then the weather will be crap for riding, so I should have plenty of time on my hands.

So basically, yes, I’ve completely lost my mind. It only took a matter of days.

But I ran this particular half marathon a few years ago and it wasn’t that bad (I think my quads were literally broken for about a week, but they bounced back eventually). The majority of it is slightly downhill so it barely even counts. Right?

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Man I need my horse back, stat. Things are quickly spiraling out of control.

 

 

The Aussies are bringin’ it

When someone says “latest equestrian fashion”, Europe is probably the first thing that springs to mind. And to give them credit, that’s undoubtedly where most of the best stuff comes from. Some of the weirdest, too, for sure, but they still seem to be the masters. I have noticed a few interesting new brands popping up over the past couple years though – out of Australia, of all places.

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Valentine Equine was probably the first to hit my radar. They love lace and so do I, so it’s probably no surprise that I’ve followed them. Some of their stuff is a bit “out there” but some of it is pretty cute… just like pretty much every other brand I know. They seem to always be trying to innovate and come up with unique things (and they do custom anything), which makes them fun to watch evolve. They also have a 20% off code for the next few days – SPRING20 – and super reasonable international shipping.

 

Another higher end brand that I came across recently is Mrs. Tutton. They describe themselves as making shirts meant to be worn “stable to street” and have one show shirt in particular that I’m pretty in love with (because if you put leather piping on something, I want it. Period. Make it navy and it’s all over.). There are a few other casual things that I’d totally wear, too, since we seem to have the same taste in colors.

 

On the more affordable side of the spectrum is Black Horse, which has a full line of riding clothes plus some casual wear and accessories. Their stuff follows a lot of what’s pretty popular right now – contrasting trim, bling, silicone grip breeches, etc.  Most of it is in the $50-140 price range, when converted to USD. Even the coats are under $200.

 

Emcee Apparel falls in the middle of the road, price wise, and they’re definitely not afraid of bold color or a pattern. They mostly have shirts, with a smattering of other pieces as well, ranging from super tame to super bold. They even have some VERY BRIGHT show shirts that may or may not blind the judge, if that’s a tactic you’re interested in. I love it.

 

These are just a handful of the Australian apparel brands that I’ve seen on the market lately… maybe we should keep a keen eye on those Aussies?

Too many feelings

As I mentioned yesterday, Saturday was a rough day for me. It seems excessively silly to me to say even that, because nothing actually happened, but I did a whole lot of introspection on the drive to and from the rehab place.

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I am not an emotional person. I’m not touchy-feely, hugs make me super uncomfortable, and talking about feelings is pretty much a no-go, ever. I also don’t tend to fall in love with horses. Since I was 18 I’ve pretty much gone from one horse to the next, buying with the intent to sell. I’ve been quite fond of some of my horses, but I’ve never gotten super attached. Even Sadie has been for sale. Henry was purchased specifically for resale. I had a decent offer on him at one point, and I had a number in my head that I would have sold him for that wasn’t far from said offer. Luckily it didn’t pan out.

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I’ve always had an “everything is for sale for the right price” mentality, and I kind of always keep a number in my head for every horse… the amount of money it would take for me to sell them. For some of them it was pretty low, for others it was slightly inflated. Henry’s number started out pretty reasonable, and over the past year it’s gotten so inflated that it’s several times what he’s actually worth – far beyond what anyone would ever pay for him. That wasn’t something I did consciously… I didn’t really realize it until now, but the totally unrealistic dollar amount I put on him in my head is definitely a reflection of where my heart is at.

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Somehow all of these realizations hit me all at once, and I found myself sitting at the end of the driveway at the rehab place after dropping Henry off, bawling my eyes out. I knew that I’d gotten attached to him, I knew that I was immensely proud of him, and I knew that he was definitely my favorite horse that I’ve ever had, but until all of this happened I didn’t really realize how deep that went.

Until I started throwing my leg over other horses, I didn’t realize just how much I love riding Henry. Until I had to drive away and leave him at the rehab place, I didn’t realize how much I love having that goofy face neighing at me every day. Somewhere along the way, I really fell in love with this horse.

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And so I cried pretty much the whole way home, and on and off all afternoon. Why? I don’t really know. It’s pretty ridiculous in the grand scheme of things. 1) It’s a fairly minor injury 2) Henry is close enough, and my schedule is such that I’ll be able to go see him once or twice a week 3) He’s only there for a month. This isn’t a huge deal at all, much worse things can happen. But man… what a reality check this is turning out to be. I am obviously way more attached to him than I thought I was, and I guess I know that now.

Crap. Guess that whole resale thing isn’t really gonna work out, is it…

All Tucked In

On Saturday I dropped Henry off at his new home for the next 30 days.

As usual, he loaded up and rode like a champ, although I can tell he’s starting to get a bit full of himself from not being ridden. Everything just happens a lot quicker, with a bit more enthusiasm than necessary.

MEEEE HENNNNNNY

He unloaded and immediately neighed at all his new QH besties (the rehab place is pretty much full of QH’s at the moment… and a mini…) then marched right in and drank a bucket of water. After a quick lap of his giant stall to check it out (they have doubles!) he touched noses with his neighbor, decided not to kill him, and started to work on his hay.

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his neighbor, Ricky Bobby
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double size stall

I was that crazy owner who brought a whole little trunk full of his stuff, and totally hovered for a while before I left. I brought his grooming stuff, a big bag of cookies, a new salt-on-a-rope, his back on track wraps, his sheet, and some of his large assortment of medications. How many other horses have a trunk sitting in front of their stalls? Uh yeah, none of them.

My mom is cray

I tried to explain all of his weird little idiosyncrasies while the owners very politely nodded and let me ramble. I told them about 50 times to feel free to send me updates and pictures, and that I’d come visit at least once a week. My crazy flag was flying high.

After I parked my trailer and paid them (bye money), I’d run out of things to piddle around with, so I finally got in my truck and left. It was an emotionally tough day (we’ll talk about that tomorrow) but I think he’s in good hands and will be happy there. They get the horses out several times a day for handgrazing, time on the walker, the aquatred, grooming, etc. He won’t be too bored, and hopefully he’ll be feeling better soon.

28 more days…

Review: For Horses breeches

This is another one of those items that I get to publicly admit to being totally wrong about. It’s always fun when I’m wrong.

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A while back, my friend Michelle called me from a tack shop in Florida (what up, TackNRider), telling me about all the cool stuff they had. We are both fans of cool stuff. She sent me pics of a few things, and was gushing about these breeches, the Julie Grip from an Italian brand called For Horses. Well, really, they were tights. As soon as she said the T word, my hackles went up. I dunno about y’all, but when someone says “riding tights”, I picture some kind of hideous, elastic waistband, stretch cotton monstrosity that shows every dimple of my backside and only looks cute on 10 year olds.

Michelle had a pair sent to me anyway, as a birthday present. I opened the package and my eyebrow went up… “what in the hell are these?”. I held them up and they looked child sized. I really thought there was no way they’d fit, or be at all attractive. I set them aside for a couple days before trying them on – that’s how optimistic I was. But when I finally pulled them on I was pleasantly surprised to find that they actually fit perfectly. And they were pretty flattering. And really, really ridiculously comfortable. I wore them around my house for a few hours that evening, not really wanting to take them off, and needing some time to process my feelings.

and take creepy mirror pictures to send to Michelle

These things are like no other riding tight I’ve ever met. There is no elastic in the waistband, it’s just the same fabric that the tights themselves are made of. The cut is very good – it’s slightly higher than normal breeches so that they don’t slide down or bunch up, and the waistband is stupid comfortable. They have silicone dots on the knee area for grip, and a sock bottom. The fabric itself is a sleek, stretchy tech fabric, so that the end result is kinda like a pair of breeches and a pair of leggings had a really nice Italian baby.

The first time I wore them to the barn I kept looking down to make sure I was actually wearing pants. They’re SO light and comfortable and breathable… by far the best breeches I’ve ever found for hot weather. If it’s balls-hot, these things are awesome. Not only are they way cooler, they also dry really quickly. I like them so much, I now have two pairs. I’ve been reaching for those breeches by default pretty much all summer, wearing and washing the heck out of them. So far they’re holding up really well.

The only thing I don’t really like about them is the little faux pockets on the butt. Well really I like the faux pockets because it gives them more of a breeches look, but IMO the little “flap” needs to be tacked down. I ended up tacking mine down with a couple stitches, just because the flapping kind of made me nuts. Maybe other people aren’t as crazy as I am about things flapping on their butt?

butt flaps, before I tacked them down

Full retail price for them is about $150, which admittedly maybe seems a little pricey at first glance for, uh… tights (that word still makes me cringe). But I’ve been so impressed by the fit, comfort, durability, and performance of these things that I have to say – if you live in a hot climate, they are an absolute godsend in the summer. Worth every penny, for sure. I’d love to have a pair in every color. Thanks Michelle for knowing that I would like them, despite my initial misgivings!

Blog Hop: Horse Thief

If the spirit of me not having a horse to ride for a while…

If you could steal a horse from any of your friends or barnmates, which one would it be?

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The obvious choice here for me would be Halo. I mean… he’s a total badass. He’s a lovely mover, a beast on XC, and a good showjumper. He’s big, he’s kind, and he’s gorgeous. I love Herrlerr. Who wouldn’t?

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I mean, he’s famous.

But he’s a big, strong, rangey horse, and I don’t think I’d ride him nearly as well or get the same results that Bobby does. I’m also 100% certain I’d get completely run away with on XC. He’s super fun, but he’s not the type of ride that I’m typically drawn to. Therefore, my answer is Violet. Definitely Violet.

She’s a young TB mare, only 15.1, quirky for sure, and just too adorable for words. Totally my type… I love mares, and obviously I like quirky. It would be easy to pass right by her in the barn, being plain brown and a bit dainty. But under saddle she’s ridiculously impressive – a lovely mover with a wicked good jump.

Baby Violet is FANCY. What a nice young horse, this one is the real deal! #youngeventhorse #ottb #thoroughbred #mare #eventing

A photo posted by Anchor Equestrian (@anchorequestrian) on

 

I’ve ridden her a couple times – there’s not a lot of horse underneath you, size wise, but she has a big stride and lots of power. She sure doesn’t know she’s little.  She’s sensitive but brave and always ready to go go go. What’s not to love about a little fancy sportscar of a horse with tons of talent and plenty of try? She probably has way too much talent for me, but still…

Violet. Definitely Violet.