In 2020, more than ever, it's so important to support our local businesses. That's I why I started highlighting Canadian equestrian products and services on my Instagram feed, and in doing so have discovered some amazing new products and brands!
To help everyone out there buy Canadian and shop local this year, I curated a holiday gift guide for Horse Sport. Part 1 covers tack and accessories, while Part 2 features riding apparel, grooming tools and horse health products.
As part of my new affiliation with Breeches.com, from time to time they send me products to test out and review. How cool is that? I'm under no obligation to provide a positive review; they want my genuine, honest feedback and that's exactly what your'e going to get.
The first item they sent couldn't have come at a better time. We've been having a heat wave in Ontario that feels like it's lasted for two months already. Temps are above 30 most days with humidex values often in the 40s. Even riding first thing in the morning doesn't really help beat the heat, so I was excited to try this Equine Couture Ladies Giana short sleeve show shirt. It features a large mesh panel across the back for ventilation, and is made with moisture-wicking "Equi Cool" fabric.
The shirt is simple and stylish with clean lines and a sporty look, thanks to the tech fabric and quarter zip. Definitely nice enough to wear at a show or clinic, but plain and comfy enough for everyday schooling. The logo is subtle and not too big. Overall a nice modern update on the classic short sleeve show shirt.
Fit and function
The cut is on the long side, with the bottom sitting closer to the hip than the waist; a length I prefer to avoid any riding up or gapping between the shirt and my breeches. The fabric is not as stretchy as I thought it would be, but it's very lightweight and quite comfortable. Perhaps because of the lack of stretch, it fit me a bit on the small side. In most brands I wear an XL on top, but in this particular product I would be more comfortable in an XXL. One of the things I really appreciate about this line of apparel is their inclusive sizing; the shirt is available from XS to XXXL. Have a look at the sizing chart and if you are in doubt, I'd recommend going up one size.
Did it keep me cool? Honestly nothing can keep me cool when it's 33 degrees outside, except relaxing in the shade with an ice cold gin & tonic. But the fabric does dry quickly, avoiding that gross, damp, sticky feeling. The large mesh panel at the back does encourage airflow, which gives the illusion of feeling cooler, at the very least. I think that feature would be particularly helpful under a show jacket on a hot day.
Would I recommend it?
Yes - although not as stretchy and comfortable as some other tech fabrics I've tried, this shirt gets bonus points for the ventilated back panel, and for coming in a wider range of fabrics and being priced more affordably than many similar show-appropriate shirts.
Want 20% off?
Breeches.com has given me a special code to offer 20% off to Canadian Dressage Addict readers. Full disclosure - I get a small portion of the proceeds from any order that includes my code. No pressure, no obligation. But if you like cool horse stuff, and you like saving money, please feel free to use the code AKREAD20. The discount will apply to your entire order.
Poor Gus. When it comes to the tail department he's not exactly well-endowed. He suffers the thin-tailed curse of many of his fellow chestnut Weltmeyer descendants - an issue made all the more obvious by just how out of proportion his under-sized tail is to his over-sized body. And because his tail breaks just as easily as it tangles, it's hard to keep it looking sleek and smooth when brushing only serves to make it even thinner.
I know, #FirstWorldProblems, right?
But a problem nonetheless. So when the folks at Equi-Spa contacted me to see if I was interested in trying their products and whether I had any specific grooming concerns, my answers were yes and yes. They suggested two products: Fairy Tails Lotion and Fairy Tails Orchid Oil Gloss and I readily agreed to give them both a try.
*Full disclosure: This is the bit where I have to tell you that the products were provided to me at no charge in order for me to review them. There was no financial consideration and no suggestion that the review should be anything but my own unbiased opinion, based on my own experience and actual results with the products. I don't have a stake in the company and don't personally know any of its owners or employees.
The lotion comes in a regular bottle and is applied by hand. It's thick enough that it doesn't run out of your hands, but thin enough for easy application evenly throughout the tail. I used a generous amount on the first few applications, but with regular use needed less each time. I always applied it to a clean, damp tail after shampooing.
The gloss comes in a spray bottle but is thicker than other sprays I've previously used. It comes out in more of a stream than a spray and doesn't apply quite as evenly as finer sprays. I preferred spraying it into my hands first and then rubbing it into the tail. I tried it on a clean, damp tail but also applied it several times to a dirty, dry tail and it definitely helped to keep the hair smoother and free of tangles between washings. A little goes a long way with this product, making it more economical than I first thought.
I've been using both products for almost a month now and I'm pleasantly surprised. I've tried a variety of lotions and potions on Gus's tail in the past and while most of them do help with detangling, with repeated use they seem to leave the hair either dry and brittle, or a bit sticky. Based on the consistency and initial results, I suspected Fairy Tails would lean towards the sticky side as well, but that hasn't been the case. The more I used it, the more I like it. While the tail doesn't have that silky, slippery feeling that silicone based products create, it has remained smooth and tangle free, even through rainstorms and mud baths. The tail also feels (and perhaps looks?) a little thicker and fuller than it did before, although that may just be wishful thinking on my part.
My only complaint? Both products, but particularly the gloss, are very heavily scented. It's a pleasant floral scent and isn't overwhelming in a barn setting but I quickly discovered that if I didn't wash my hands thoroughly afterwards, my allergies would go into overdrive. That being said, I am allergic to everything and super-sensitive to floral scents, even naturally-derived ones. YMMV.
The verdict: I give Fairy Tails a 4 out of 5 for being easy to use and doing exactly what it promises. At $16 (US) for the lotion and $20 for the gloss, they are comparably priced with other "natural" coat care products. However, since the products aren't available in Canada yet, you have to factor in the exchange rate, shipping costs and any duties which may apply. Once my free samples run out I would definitely order more of the lotion (because it is less scented than the gloss) and would consider trying some of the company's other products, such as the Kiss A Frog foot wash, which claims to protect the hoof from fungal and bacterial issues such as thrush and mud fever.
See for yourself! Bearing in mind that Gus' tail is usually a tangled mess just one day after washing, conditioning and detangling, check out this little video clip on my Instagram. This is him straight from turnout in a muddy, dusty field with no brushing or finger combing before taking the video. It's been about 4 days since I washed his tail or applied any Fairy Tails product and even though it's dirty, it's still smooth, shiny and tangle-free.
About the author
I'm a middle-aged, overweight, rusty re-rider who refuses to let any of that get in the way of my passion for dressage.