Battle of the Winter Warming Shirts!

I hate the cold weather, so anytime I find riding clothes that advertise they will keep me warm using some type of thermo-technology, I am up for trying them. This year I have tried three different shirts that all claim to keep you warmer in the cold winter weather: the SmartPak UnderArmour Coldgear Infrared Crew, the EIS Heated Shirt, and the Asmar Equestrian Active Compression Top.

I am going to rate the shirts on a scale of 1 to 3 stars, with 3 obviously being the best.

EIS Heated Shirt, available in adult and youth sizes.

EIS Heated Shirt: This is the one I liked best out of the bunch. EIS just released this shirt, and it has heating and moisture wicking properties. It is advertised as keeping your body 5 degrees warmer which is awesome when it comes to winter weather. The shirt itself only comes in black and has a different material on the underside than the other EIS shirts. I wore the shirt on an extremely cold day, and it definitely kept me much warmer than a regular shirt would have. I also wore it during a riding lesson to test out its odor wicking properties, and those did not disappoint either. I didn’t feel like I smelled bad after riding (though I do also wear deodorant), and I also didn’t get that icky feeling when I’ve cooled down from the lesson and realized how sweaty I am, thus making me cold. If you are going to get just one of these shirts, I would definitely purchase this one. Also, this is not a shirt you can wear alone on a 15 degree day. It keeps you warm but not that warm. That being said, this plus a good jacket will keep you warm, cutting down on the bulky layers.

Pros: Definitely keeps body warmer; wicks away sweat and prevents that icky cold feeling after you’ve cooled down.
Cons: Won’t keep you toasty on a bitter cold day, but will decrease the layers needed.
Rating: 3 stars

 

SmartPak UnderArmour ColdGear Crew

SmartPak UnderArmour Coldgear Infrared Crew: This shirt uses special technology to reflect your body heat and keep you warm, much like the Back On Track products (except without the ceramic particles). I really love this shirt. It’s very flattering and warm. It is also a great layering piece. In terms of warmth, it takes second to the EIS. I found myself needing more layers with this and not staying as warm in colder weather if I didn’t have those layers. The good thing is this shirt is not bulky and fits very well under or over other clothing so it does not add to any bulk. The shirt also has moisture wicking properties, which I found to work but not as well as the EIS. However, it does have anti-microbial technology that helps keep the shirt fresher, longer, which I have found to be very effective.

Pros: Flattering fit; not bulky; moisture-wicking; don’t need to wash as often.
Cons: Not as warming as other shirts; still need to layer.
Rating: 2.5 stars

Asmar Equestrian Active Compression Top.

Asmar Equestrian Active Compression Top: I love this shirt. It’s very flattering and fits extremely well. However, I found it to be the least warming of the winter shirts I tested. It is a compression shirt so it is supposed to keep muscles warm while exercising, which it did, but the material is thin, and I personally would never wear this without layering. The material is stretchy and soft, but thin and not enough to withstand bitter cold. The thumb hole is great for covering your hands, but I found it actually irritating to ride in with gloves over the hand part. I definitely love the shirt, and it did serve its purpose when I was riding by keeping my muscles warm, but I had to layer a lot, and I could never wear this alone in the bitter cold – unless I had an indoor, maybe. It is flattering, and it does keep you warm, but only while riding. I like shirts that will be effective before, during, and after riding. I spend a lot of time at the barn, riding or not, so if I choose this as my outfit, I better be prepared to layer or bring my heavy winter jacket.

Pros: Very flattering fit; made of great material; does the job when you’re riding; not bulky.
Cons: Doesn’t keep you very warm while not riding; material is very thin; thumb holes to keep hands warm can be irritating.
Rating: 2 stars

Overall, any of these picks are a good fit depending on what it is you’re doing. If you want to be warm before, during, and after riding, then the EIS Heated Shirt is probably for you. Looking for something to keep you warm, but don’t mind layering? SmartPak UnderArmour ColdGear Crew! And, if you’re just riding and that’s it, the Asmar Active Compression Top will definitely do the job.

Have you tried another similar type shirt this winter and loved it? Let me know in the comments below!

Product Review: EcoLicious Equestrian Hey Sugar Body Butter & Shower Shake

Note: Petra, from EcoLicious, asked me to update this post in regards to the Body Butter. Due to a manufacturing mistake, the wrong instructions for the Body Butter were placed on the packaging. The Body Butter can actually be used as a lotion, so you can apply it post-shower or bath on moist legs, arms, and any other area of the body. I did this and received the same result – total smoothness, hydration, and no greasy after feel! I like using it in the shower as a wash, but it also works great as a lotion which, as it turns out, is its original intended use.

For those of you that haven’t heard of EcoLicious Equestrian, they are a company dedicated to making all natural products for horses and for riders. I’ve reviewed quite a few of their products in the past, and I’ve never been disappointed. Their horse products are free from harsh chemicals, preservatives, and other substances that are often present in many other shampoos, coat whiteners, and horse care products.

EcoLicious Equestrian also has products for riders, such as their Hey Sugar Lip Silk and their hand lotion. As of this week, they have added two more products to their line for riders: Hey Sugar Nourishing Body Butter & Hey Sugar 3-in-1 Exfoliating Shower Shake.

EcoLicious was kind enough to send me the body butter and shower shake to try before it was available to their clients. I tried them both tonight, and I was not disappointed!

If you own the Hey Sugar Lip Silk, then the body butter and shower shake scent will be very familiar to you. They both smell like brown sugar and marshmallows which makes using them in the shower or bath even better. Most importantly, the smell is not overwhelming. I often find that bath and shower products have strong smells that sometimes make me feel sick, but that was not the case with these products at all. I enjoyed the smell, and they left a nice, lingering after scent on my skin.

To start, I used the 3-in-1 Shower Shake.

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Ecolicious Equestrian Hey Sugar Exfoliating 3-in-1 Shower Shake.

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EcoLicious Equestrian Shower Shake.

The Shower Shake washes, exfoliates, and moisturizes all at once. It has a more solid feel to it, so when you scoop it out, it isn’t running all over the place. I also liked that the exfoliation element wasn’t harsh and gritty which can actually be worse for your skin and do the exact opposite of what exfoliation is supposed to do. I love to use exfoliating scrubs on my legs right before I shave, so that was the first thing I tried with this product. I also used it as a foot scrub because when I’m not walking around in paddock or tall boots, I’m at an office wearing uncomfortable flats or heels, so my feet could use a break. I also used the product on the tops of my hands as I get extremely dry skin in the winter to the point where it is burning, itchy, and uncomfortable, and on my arms. After rinsing, my skin instantly felt smoother and softer. My legs were extremely smooth and soft as well, and I didn’t cut them while shaving (you’d be surprised at how often I still do this…)

The Shower Shake definitely does its job. It also rinses off clean and doesn’t leave a greasy or oily after feeling which is something I despise about moisturizing products. I am always very weary about using anything that is both natural and moisturizing because I hate having a greasy or sticky after feeling on my body, and this did not happen at all with this product.

After using the Shower Shake, I tried the Body Butter.

EcoLicious Equestrian Hey Sugar Nourishing Body Butter.

EcoLicious Equestrian Hey Sugar Nourishing Body Butter.

EcoLicious Equestrian Body Butter

EcoLicious Equestrian Body Butter.

Next, I used the Body Butter. According to the instructions, you are supposed to massage this on while in the shower – almost like a soap. The Body Butter has more of a lotion-y type feel, but it is still solid enough that you don’t end up losing half of it in the bottom of the tub before you’re able to use it. It is smooth and of course smells delicious. I used it on all the same places I used the Shower Shake and then rinsed it off with warm water.

The Body Butter rinses clean, which again, is something very important to me in any skin product. My skin felt smooth, moisturized, and clean. My hands immediately felt better and not as dry as they did before. They were less irritated and less scaly (sexy, I know).

Of course, I had to wait until I got out of the shower and moved around a little to make sure that the product didn’t leave a greasy, sticky, or oily after feel once I dried off. I am happy to report that it did not. Both products definitely rinse clean, but that doesn’t mean they stop working. My skin feels super soft and hydrated, and my legs are SO smooth. I loved both of the products, and I will be using them in the future (and buying more when I run out)!

I’ve always been happy with the EcoLicious horse products, and I am happy to report that their product line for us humans does not disappoint. All natural doesn’t have to mean less effective, and when the all natural substances happen to smell amazing, that’s even better!

If you’re wondering about the ingredients of each product. Here is a list.

The Body Butter contains marshmallow extract, shea butter, vitamin E, cacao, and coconut.

The Shower Shake has ground loofah, coconut, oatmeal, and brown sugar.

Each of the ingredients is knowing for its soothing and moisturizing properties, so it is the perfect combination for anyone who has dry or irritated skin, especially now that cold weather is starting to take over.

What don’t these products contain?

  • Silicones
  • Parabens
  • Synthetic dyes
  • Artificial fragrances

If you’re interested in buying either – or both – of these products, you can visit the EcoLicious Equestrian website to purchase them. They will be shipping out this Monday! They are also available for sale at the Royal in Canada.

If you are interested in seeing some of my past reviews of EcoLicious Equestrian products, you can find those below:

 

Giveaway for 20k: EcoLicious Equestrian Waterless Shampoo

As promised, we are doing another giveaway for reaching 20k blog views.

This week’s giveaway is EcoLicious Equestrian Waterless Shampoo! It’s the perfect thing to have on hand especially going into the cold winter months when it might not be the best idea to give your horse or pony a full-blown bath.

Don’t know about EcoLicious Equestrian’s Waterless Shampoo? Check out my review here!

Ready to enter? What are you waiting for! Click here.

Why you need the SmartPak SmartBlanket app

For those of you that don’t know, SmartPak released their SmartBlanket app a few days ago. Some have said “why should you need an app to tell whether to blanket your horse?” While this is somewhat true, I also find the app to be extremely handy. Here’s why.

When you download the app, it asks you to input some information about your horse such as where he or she is located, coat length, turnout schedule, weight, and whether the barn is significantly warmer than outside. After entering this information (and providing a cute picture), SmartBlanket will give you the weather/temperature predictions for the next 7 days and nights and the 8th day. Along with the predictions is what type of blanket your horse will need based on what’s being predicted. Below are the predictions for my pony, Tempo, and my horse, Luther. Luther is currently on stall rest because of a bruise on his hoof, so he is currently inside both day and night.

Tempo’s SmartBlanket recommendations.

Luther’s SmartBlanket recommendations.

I tweaked the profile of each of my boys to show how the SmartBlanket recommendations will change depending on the horse’s coat length, weight, and turnout schedule.

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Luther’s SmartBlanket recommendations based on tweaked characteristics. I changed his coat length and his turnout schedule.

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Tempo’s SmartBlanket recommendations based on tweaked characteristics. I changed his coat length and weight.

One thing that I think is awesome is that it differentiates between a turnout sheet/blanket and a sheet/blanket. Obviously, if your horse is going to be outside during the day or at night when there is precipitation, he or she should have a turnout sheet or blanket because those are waterproof. If you notice, for the nighttime recommendations where I put my horse and pony would be inside at night, a sheet is just recommended because they will not be exposed to the elements.

While it is not yet cold enough here to differentiate between the different weight blankets, I am sure the app will recommend medium weight and heavy weight blankets based on the temperatures and the wind.

I also placed one of my boys on 24/7 turnout, just to see what happened, and a turnout sheet/blanket is recommended during the day and night depending on temperatures and the chance of precipitation.

The app also has a few other handy features, such as defining each type of blanket/sheet you can buy for your horse, blanketing tips, a glossary of blanket features (what is denier anyway?), a measurement guide, and tips on fitting a blanket properly to a horse, including when a horse has different conformational features such as high withers or a stocky build.

It is important to note that the SmartBlanket app is just a guide, and that you (or your barn manager/trainer) knows your horse better than the app does. For example, if your horse is ill, it might not be the best idea to turn him out on a cold day, even with a sheet or blanket. Your horse also might require a sheet when it gets into the 50s whereas the SmartPak app may not recommend that. The app does not replace yours or your barn manager/trainer’s knowledge of your horse, but it can help you plan ahead given that it will give you the weather and blanket predictions 8 days in advance.

This app is also handy for first-time horse owners. While some of us may think we shouldn’t need an app to tell whether our horse needs a blanket or sheet, there are some people who are leasing or owning a horse for the first time and may not have all the knowledge an experienced horse person does. This is a great way for a new horse leaser or owner to learn when and what his or her horse needs and when. When I first bought my pony, I didn’t know anything about blanketing – mostly because I had ridden at facilities that didn’t believe in blanketing for the most part. My pony had lived outside – even in the winter – with no blanket before I bought him!

A good rule of thumb: It is better for a horse to be too cold than too hot! It’s easy for your horse to shiver to warm up, but he can’t take his blanket off himself! (Well.. most can’t anyway..)

Overall, I find this app to be very handy, and I recommend any horse owner or barn manager to download it. Inputting each horse’s information is simple, and it’s also very simple to switch from horse to horse.

If you’re curious about what blanket or sheet is required for what temperatures, SmartPak also has a handy temperature guide on their website.

To download the app, you can find it in the iTunes app store under “SmartBlanket” or click here from your cell phone!

ps. Don’t worry Droid users, SmartPak is working on a Droid version of the app to be released soon.

Must Have Equestrian Fashion Items for Fall 2014

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Le Fash Central Park City Breech.

1. Le Fash: I finally bought my first Le Fash shirt last year, and I am IN LOVE with it. I since have picked up three Le Fash long sleeve show shirts. I also own one of their short sleeve show shirts and two of their sport polos. Their Spring 2015 collection is being rolled out this month, and their new City Breech colors are already on the website. One of the greatest things about the brand is that their clothes are able to worn in day-to-day life. You could wear one of their shirts to work and only have to change into breeches when you get to the barn (I have personally done this – it works flawlessly). I love the versatility of the brand, and the designs are gorgeous. Le Fash clothes are 100% show appropriate and have already made their way into the show ring with sponsored riders Jennifer Alfano, Maggie Jayne, and Hunter Holloway. The Spring 2015 City Breech colors are to die for, and I will be purchasing the Central Park hunter green for myself. The new show shirt colors aren’t up on the website yet, but Le Fash has posted a preview to its Facebook page, and they look gorgeous!

Asmar Equestrian Active Compression Top.

2. Asmar Equestrian: I recently became a fan of Asmar Equestrian, and I have one of their compression shirts on order right now. Not only do they look super cute, but they serve a dual purpose: keeping muscles warm and wicking sweat away. I cannot wait to wear this in the fall, especially during those rides where I get super sweaty and then super cold once I’m done riding due to the cold temperatures. The shirt comes in black  and can be found here or here. There is also a lux compression top that looks amazingly gorgeous. You should also check out their show shirts and their sweaters! I just bought their Merino Wool v-neck in Caribbean, and I. love. it. Super comfortable, super soft, and very flattering! I pretty much love all their apparel.

Rebecca Ray Bit Belt in black.

3. Rebecca Ray Bit Belt: If you haven’t checked out Rebecca Ray already, you must do so. She has a ton of cute equestrian themed stuff like wrist cuffs, handbags, home decorations, and more. I have been wanting the Rebecca Ray Bit Belt. The belt comes in black, brown, or red leather with a silver snaffle bit. The belt can be buckled in the front so that the bit is on the hip or buckled on the side so the bit is in the front. This is a definite must have for the fall. I mean, who DOESN’T need more belts? (Seriously.. if your breeches have belt loops, wear a belt!) The bit belt can be found here or here.

Spur belt available at Equestri Lifestyle

4. Spur Belt: One of my favorite tack shops, Equestri Lifestyle, has spur belts that are super cute and fun. They come in 9 different colors (on the website), including black if you want to remain conservative. The belt buckle resembles a spur. I’ve seen a ton of different color combinations with these belts, and I love them all. Equestri Lifestyle allows special orders, so if you want a color not on the website or a certain material for the actual belt, they can accommodate you! I personally love the aqua, light patent pink, and black colors. These belts would go great with one of the Asmar Equestrian polos, a Le Fash show shirt, or an EIS mesh shirt!

Renard et Cheval show coat in brown. Photo Credit: Equestri Lifestyle Facebook page.

Renard et Cheval show coat in brown. Photo Credit: Equestri Lifestyle Facebook page.

5. Renard et Cheval: This is a fairly new equestrian apparel brand, but their stuff is gorgeous. Alexa Skonieczny who also owns Equestri Lifestyle gave me the rundown on this brand new line created by individuals that spent years making custom show clothing for Karl Cook, Marcus Enhning, and Nick Skelton. They offer breeches, shirts, and show coats. Their breeches come in two colors: pomegranate and tan. Their shirts come in multiple colors and have details such as magnetic collars, printed collars and cuffs, mesh under sleeve, and fun designs in the collars and cuffs. Their show coats (the brown is to die for) come in four basic “off the rack” designs. However, you can get a custom collar or a completely custom coat for extra money on top of the base price. The brand is still new, but it can be found at Equestri Lifestyle, Barrington Saddlery, Allon, and Stirrup Cup.

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My Barn Child Evil Eye charm.

6. My Barn Child Evil Eye Charm: For those of you that don’t know what the “evil eye” is, it is a curse that is cast by a malevolent glare that is given when a person is unaware. It is often thought to cause misfortune or injury to the person that receives it. It has different names in different cultures; my favorite being the “stink eye” which comes from Hawaii. To protect oneself from the evil eye, you can wear evil eye jewelry which is meant to reflect the evil eye back towards the giver and keep you from receiving the curse. While I know this sounds like a bunch of mythical lore, but I really like the concept, and I actually had an evil eye bracelet until I lost it riding one day. Given the stuff I’ve been dealing with recently when it comes to riding (lots of gossiping and competitiveness), I decided to get the My Barn Child Evil Eye charm to put on my saddle and protect me from any negativity and bad karma. Even though we may try to avoid it, riding can be extremely competitive and catty, and the evil eye charm is the perfect way to combat that (if you believe in protective talismans, that is.. which I definitely do)!

Under Armour Authentic Tights.

7. SmartPak Under Armour: Some of us aren’t lucky enough to be at a facility that has a heated barn and indoor ring.. or even an indoor ring. If this winter is anything like last winter, and sources say it will be, we are definitely going to need more winter clothing to keep us from freezing. Under Armour and SmartPak teamed up to make a line suited for equestrians. They have items for the cold and hot days, but I am just going to be focusing on the cold days. My favorites are the Under Armour Coldgear Infrared Crew, the Under Armour Authentic Tights, the  Under Armour Infrared Full Zip Jacket, and the Under Armour Coldgear Infrared Liner Glove. Each of these items uses your own body heat to keep your warm while making sure you also stay dry if you begin sweating. The tights and the glove liners are a great idea because you can wear them under your breeches and winter gloves for those extra cold days. I personally wore leggings under my breeches several days this past winter because it was that cold. We may hate the cold weather, but it’s something we have to deal with, so we might as well do it right!

Lillie Keenan & her Personally Preppy helmet monogram.

Lillie Keenan & her Personally Preppy helmet monogram.

8. Personally Preppy Monograms: I love the idea of monogramming, especially if multiple people at the same barn have the same stuff. Personally Preppy offers monograms for all the essential riding gear: helmets, gloves, boots, horse boots, spurs, and crops! You can also purchase monogrammed polos, a monogram for your show backpack, and a heat transfer monogram to put on your breeches or other apparel. They are customizable, and you can choose from a variety of different sizes, colors, and designs. Plus, Lillie Keenan uses them so what more do you need to know?

Ecolicious Equestrian Hey Sugar Lip Silk.

9. Ecolicious Equestrian Hey Sugar Lip Silk: Winter air is often very cold and very dry which is not necessarily the greatest combination for our skin or lips. My lips tend to get very chapped in the winter, especially because I still ride outside. My solution? Tons of lip balm. The Hey Sugar Lip Silk from Ecolicious Equestrian is AMAZING. Not only does it smell fantastic, it tastes fantastic too (not that I’ve been eating it………..), and it keeps my lips soft and moisturized all day. Just like every Ecolicious product, the lip silk is made from all natural ingredients like Jojoba oil, sunflower oil, and beeswax. It’s great for your lips and great for the environment!

Parlanti Passion Miami boots

10. Parlanti Passion Tall Boots: I love my custom Der Daus, but I ride so much that I wanted to get a pair of schooling tall boots that didn’t break the bank. I decided to purchase a pair of stock size Parlantis over the summer. I got my pair, and they felt like they were broken in already even though I was putting them on for the first time! Mine do not fit me perfectly, but for stock size tall boots, they are pretty damn close which I cannot say about other brands. I love these boots, and they are amazing quality for a stock size boot. A size chart is available here. I have always heard great things about Parlantis, and these did not disappoint even though I did not spend the money to get a custom pair. Tall boots are a must have, especially if you will be showing. Not everyone can afford custom boots, so these are a great alternative. They are available here or here.

Gorgeous custom Samshield helmet featuring Alcantara body, Galuchat top, and Swarovski Zircom trim.

11. Samshield helmet: So, earlier this year I was obsessed with GPA helmets. Then I tried one on. None of them fit my head, and I quickly was over it. It seems as if Samshield helmets have been catching on lately, and I love them. I currently have a Charles Owen AYR8, and I am strongly considering purchasing a Samshield in the near future. Here’s what I like about the Samshield: it’s vented, so it will keep you cool in the summer; it has removable and washable liners; the padding does not make contact with your forehead which is GREAT news for migraine sufferers like myself; and the helmet itself is customizable (though some of the options will run you into the thousands). Samshields are available pretty much anywhere, so I can’t link you to all the available vendors, but you can definitely find them at SmartPak and Dover Saddlery.

Product Review: Higher Standards Leather Care Saddle Soap & Conditioner

In full disclosure, I received a request to review these two products. In more full disclosure, I REALLY did love it, and I will be buying another container of saddle soap!

Embarrassing confession: I never used to clean my tack. I would do it every once in a while because the leather on my saddle or bridle felt dry. This changed one day when my trainer shunned me for not cleaning my tack after every use. She can often be found cleaning her saddle, boots, half chaps, and the bridle of the horse she rode, in the back of her car in the barn parking lot after her training/exercise rides. Now, it’s become something we do together after my lesson and her training ride!

Higher Standards Leather Care was started when Libby, the company’s founder, began making saddle soap as presents for her friends for Christmas. According to the product website, Libby took a chance and sent her soap to Karen O’Connor’s groom, and the groom ended up requesting more!

I also have to confess that Libby and I seem to be kindred spirits. In her email to me, she revealed that she is an attorney, and the product name came from the fact that Libby had been asked to leave a couple of boarding facilities for being “too picky.” I laughed at this because I have been called “needy” and “high maintenance” by my barn manager because I expect certain things to be done that, in my opinion, should be done – but that has been detailed in other posts. While others may describe us as “picky,” I consider it to be the expectation of excellent care for our horses.

I received the Ben’s Rosemary Mint scented saddle soap. Each jar comes with a sponge to make tack cleaning easy and convenient. Everything you need is right there in the jar, except for the water to do a pre-clean and a post-clean to wipe the soap off. I also have to say that even though I left the jar in the trunk of my car which caused the soap to melt due to the hot summer weather, the soap still effectively cleans my tack and leaves it soft, supple, and without the sticky, tacky feeling some leather cleaning products leave! (Editor’s Note: You should probably just not be an idiot like me and leave your soap in the car during hot weather…..)

Flash noseband attachment before cleaning.

Flash noseband attachment before cleaning.

This soap is super effective and gets rid of grime, even stuff that has been dried up and on the leather for a few days. My Arab has a flash noseband, and after rides, it often is gunked up with foam that is also mixed with hay and grass. By the time I get to tack cleaning, it’s often dried up and hard to remove. To see just how effective Higher Standards was, I skipped bridle cleaning for my Arab for a day and then cleaned it after he had been ridden the next day. Higher Standards definitely cut through the grime and made the leather look shiny and new again. It did take a bit of elbow grease and scrubbing though.

Flash noseband attachment after cleaning.

Flash noseband attachment after cleaning.

I also used the soap on my paddock boots, which I don’t ride in that often but wear a lot around the barn, so they get beat up with all the dust, dirt, horse poop, and water I walk in on a daily basis. I also do not clean them often. The soap got all of the dirt and grime off and made them look almost new again.

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Paddock boots before cleaning.

Paddock boots after cleaning.

Paddock boots after cleaning.

Finally, I cleaned my saddle. My saddle is pretty brand new, so it hasn’t gotten the chance to get super grimy or dirty yet, but that’s also because I clean it after every ride. However, here is what it looked like after Higher Standards.

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I also really like the leather balm. This is not something to be used every time you clean your tack. It’s best if you use it when you feel your tack needs a bit more moisture or hasn’t been conditioned in a while. It definitely leaves the leather feeling soft and supple, and my saddle didn’t feel dry at all. Because you don’t need to use it often, the balm will definitely last a long time.

Now for the fun part: the saddle soap comes in different scents! I am a huge fan of scented items, so this was a big selling point for me. I received the Ben’s Rosemary Mint for my test run, and it smelled great. It wasn’t too strong or overpowering. As an added bonus, mint is soothing to migraine headaches, which I get a ton of during the summer, so cleaning tack did not irritate my head because I was using something that had a soothing scent to my particular ailment. For my next tub of soap, I will be buying the Vanilla Lavender because vanilla is my absolute favorite scent in the world. I also got some compliments from fellow boarders about how good the soap smelled, and they said the mint was particularly “soothing.”

If you’re interested in trying this awesome soap & conditioner, you can find Higher Standards’ retail partners here, or you can order their products online!

Product Review: Farnam Weight Builder

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me tweet about how my barn manager put my lease horse, L, on a weight gain supplement. L is half TB and half Trakehner, and he has the hard keeper characteristics of a TB. He is not super underweight, but he could stand to have a little more fat in his rib and hind area. My trainer and I noticed that he lost a little bit of weight after moving up to work 5-6 days a week, so we spoke to my barn manager about his feed regimen. My barn manager decided to up L’s food by a little bit and put him on a weight gain supplement. While these were not the choices I, or my trainer, would’ve made, we decided to try it out since my barn manager had already purchased the supplement for L.

My barn manager originally wanted to give L Cool Calories because I said that I did not want him on anything that would make him hot. The feed store was out of Cool Calories, so my barn manager purchased this saying it was most comparable to Cool Calories. I researched Weight Builder online, and while it differs a bit from Cool Calories, it seemed like the safest option in terms of making sure L was not being given “hot energy.”

For comparison, Cool Calories is 99% fat. It has no other ingredients. Farnam Weight Builder is only 40% fat and has 14% protein. The reviews for the product were mixed, with some people saying it worked and others saying it didn’t. A handful of individuals said it made their horse hot. I wasn’t happy about the Weight Builder, but like I said, I was willing to try it.

Within a few days of being on the supplement, I noticed L was spookier than usual. He was spooky in his stall, which was incredibly out of character. I only rode him two times in the week he started the supplement because the weather was extremely hot and humid, and he spooked during both rides, which is also very odd for him. My trainer and I decided to give him another week or so to see if he leveled out or if he seemed to be getting worse.

The spookiness was on and off for the next week. He still seemed a bit antsy and not himself. He was not acting dangerously, but he definitely was a bit more “up” than usual. L is pretty level-headed, and he doesn’t really spook at anything unjustified, so I was taking note of all the behavior changes I was seeing.

Then, after about two weeks of him being on the supplement, I had a terrible lesson on him. I felt like I was riding a spring. Again, he was not being dangerous, but the horse underneath me was not the same horse I had been riding for the past 6 months. He was doing the fire breathing dragon act at the canter, barely listening to my leg, and spooking at nothing in the same corner. I had my trainer get on after my lesson so she could feel what I was dealing with, and she agreed that he was NOT himself.

Normally when there is a change in a horse’s behavior, you want to take note of what you may have changed in his routine because that can often contribute to behavior change. Luckily, only one thing had been changed in the past few weeks, and it was the weight gain supplement, so I had a pretty good idea of what was making him act differently. For the record, I didn’t see much of a change in weight gain either, even though it wasn’t given a full month to work.

I’ve removed the supplement from L’s feeding regimen, and he has gone back to normal. He is no longer spooky or hot. He doesn’t seem to have a bunch of pent up energy, and he definitely does not seem as agitated as he was when he was on the supplement. While every horse is different, I wouldn’t recommend this supplement to anyone. However, like I wrote above, the reviews on this product were mixed. Some people swear by it, and others would never recommend it for a horse. I obviously fall in the latter category.

I personally feel that a weight gain supplement should be the last resort. A horse needs forage, first and foremost, and then appropriate grain for his work level. You should also make sure that your horse is on a regular deworming schedule and rule out any other potential issues that could be causing weight loss before assuming that your horse just needs to be on a supplement that will help him pack on the pounds.

Have you tried this supplement and had success or the same results? Let me know in the comments below!