Every once in a while I like to circle back around and give updates on things I’ve reviewed, or maybe just thoughts on small things that I didn’t bother doing a full review on. It’s been a while, and a few things are worthy of some follow-up, so here we go.
First up, those Freejump stirrups. I somewhat impulse-purchased the Soft’Up Pro during Black Friday and while my initial thoughts were positive, my long term thoughts are downright glowing. I freaking love these things. They’re so balanced, so comfortable, and so grippy. I have been plagued forever by knee and ankle issues, and now I can’t even remember the last time I actually thought about my knees or ankles while I was riding. I love how they hang, I love the weight, I love how grippy they are. The only annoying thing is that they don’t really stay run-up on the leathers when your saddle isn’t in use. Which is because they naturally really want to hang down where they’re supposed to. I can’t get too grumpy about that. Zero regrets about this purchase.
I also bought a new XC vest right around the same time as the stirrups. I haven’t reviewed this one yet because honestly I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. After a lot of internet research I bought the Dainese Balios 3. I wanted something comfortable, breathable, BETA 3 approved, and with good coverage of my stomach and collar bone area. A lot of vests really only cover the ribcage, and I want more than that. The Dainese had many excellent reviews in the UK (because of course no one sells it in the US) so I bit the bullet and bought one.
I’m still kind of on the fence. On one hand, the thing is REALLY bulky looking. Like… when I put it on I look as though I’m suited up to go play football. There’s nothing flattering about this thing at all. BUT, on the other hand, it’s still somehow really comfortable. I never would have thought that a bulky vest like this would be as comfortable as it is, but that hexagon construction makes it very flexible. Despite being considerably bulkier, it’s markedly more comfortable than my Airowear was, and it doesn’t feel bulky to wear. It also covers quite a bit more surface area, making me feel a bit safer. Of course, that’s also why it looks bulky. So, ya know… catch 22.
There are pros and cons here. Do I feel well-protected and comfortable? Yes. Do I look like a navy ninja turtle? Also yes.
More recently I’ve been revamping my riding shirt collection. A lot of my Kastels are going on 5 years old, and they are looking really sad and faded and stained. To their credit, they’re still perfectly useable, they just look relatively awful. When I was at the Tack Shack of Ocala I walked around their extensive sunshirt collection, feeling all the fabric and looking at the colors. I’m kind of picky about what I like, and I am also a bit cheap when it comes to sunshirts. I ended up settling on a Tredstep Sun Chic shirt in hunter green, mostly because the shoulder detail was cute, I liked the color, and the price was acceptable. I could not say the same for 95% of the other sunshirts in the store.
I like the Tredstep. The outside fabric is very deceiving because it almost feels cottony, but the underside is silky smooth and REALLY nice. The fit is a little more boxy than I prefer, but it’s a nice shirt. Not as cooling as the Kastels, I don’t think, and I’d rather buy it on sale than pay full price again, but I would buy another. They have a really pretty dark purple.
Then I picked up a couple of Equine Couture Erna shirts at Karen’s recommendation. I’ve not been much a fan of EC stuff in the past, but they always have a 30% off coupon code, so I was ok with risking $35 per shirt. These are interesting because the entire arm and top of the shoulder is mesh. As you might expect, they have pretty fantastic airflow. If the fabric of the body was more like Kastel I would fill my closet up with these things. As it is, I’ve ended up going back and buying one in every color they have (which right now is only black, white, and navy – I’m wearing the navy in the pic above). For $35 I’m pretty darn happy with them. We’ll see how they hold up over time.
I’ve got two sets of tall boots in my collection right now – a pair of Tucci Marilyn’s and a pair of brown Ego 7’s. I’ve reviewed both in detail in the past. It’s really unfair to even compare the two, since the Tucci are high end and the Ego7 are economy. To be honest, I’ve been a bit ruined by the Tucci’s. They’re so comfortable and fit so well and are so pretty. I can wear them all day and it’s no problem. They’re also wearing like iron.
The Ego7’s are fine. I’ve had a couple of issues, first when the zipper puller broke off of the zipper bridge. Both are metal, so I can only assume that I am the Hulk. That was a relatively easy fix at the boot shop, at least. The bigger issue is that the leather under the laces on the right boot has started to disintegrate a bit. If I’d paid the US price of $500 for them I’d probably be upset, but since I paid $250 in Europe, they’re wearing about like I would expect a $250 boot to wear. I love the chocolate color, the sole is still in great shape, and no off-the-rack boot has more fit options, but they’re definitely no Tucci. Granted, they aren’t anywhere near the same price category either.
I kind of think that any other budget boot is going to be underwhelming to me forever now. It’s hard for me to want to wear anything BUT the Tucci’s. Major first world problems.
I’m about at my wit’s end with quarter sheets. They are not particularly easy to shop for when all of your saddles are monoflap and you also live in a warm place where you are guaranteed to have to remove said quarter sheet after your warmup. Early last fall I picked up a Shires on clearance, after selling the previous one (who’s brand I can’t remember) that I also bought on clearance. I purchased the previous one because it was basically just a nylon shell with nylon lining – no fleece. But it was so lightweight that it got whipped all over the place by our insane Texas wind.
The Shires had a lining (granted it’s fleece, which I’ve always hated, so I kind of did this to myself) so I was hoping it would be heavier and stay put. Yes it’s heavier (real freakin heavy) but the stupid fleece lining makes it stick to the horse and then get pulled toward the back when they move. I can’t get the damn thing to stay on unless I strap it down completely underneath the saddle. And if I put it under the saddle then I can’t remove it while I’m riding, which makes it basically useless in my climate. Even if I put it on top of the saddle and sit on the damn thing, it goes flying off the back as soon as we trot or canter. I’m about to just give up on quarter sheets, considering the only one I’ve ever loved was the wool PS of Sweden one that Henry outgrew. And then when PSoS finally came out with more they changed the style. Still pouting.
We’re past quarter sheet season now so I’m going to let my angst die down a bit before I start looking around again for more options, but the Shires is a fail.
Anything else I’ve bought or reviewed in the past couple years that y’all want updates on? I tend to lose track of things…