The horse world, long steeped in tradition, is becoming fashionably tecchie. Advancements in fabrics and design, the influx of European influence, and greater options for customization means that riders and horses alike can feel a lot more comfortable while looking chic. Stable Management checked the marketplace and also caught up with Courtney Caverzasi, former equestrian manager for Hermès and current owner of RIDE, in Bedford, New York, to get an “up close and personal” take on some of the new gear.
FOR THE RIDER
Courtney sees a trend of Italian-made breeches surpassing traditional brands in the jumper ring. Her top picks are Equiline’s Ash (ladies) and Willow (men’s) Breeches, offering just the right amount of “enhanced security.”
“They are truly the most beautiful breech we have seen on the market,” she noted. Equiline’s clothing materials offer such sophisticated features as advanced breathability and water repellency, easy drying, and silicon treatment for enhanced grip and stability.
The TredStep Ireland Symphony Nero breech combines Tredstep’s signature motion fit design with a new fabric (“ExCell”) made from a Lycra and cotton blend. The breeches wick away moisture, yet retain their shape.
FITS constructs their clothes with a “function first” sensibility. Their most popular breech is the All Season Original Full Seat breech, with patented PerforMAX full seat technology. Made of a microfiber fabric that offers both wicking and warming properties, these engineered breeches also feature perforated deerskin panels on the seat and Powernet panels in the front and inner calf for compression support.
Gloves must balance “grippiness” and durability with sensitivity. Courtney explained that, “The best gloves are ultra thin and offer optimal contact. Our top pick is the V-Skinglove from Samshield. It’s a combination of perforated leather and Lycra, and feels like a second skin. You almost forget you’re wearing gloves!” V-Skins are available in five colors and can be ordered with or without Swarovski crystals.
Roeckl gloves are another popular choice. Their synthetic Chester glove with contrasting piping can be customized with Swarovski crystals. Their Walford glove is made of Clarino coated with silicon for a durable, non-slip grip.
Many riders turn to SSG for selection and price. Their newly introduced Digital glove is the result of two years of testing and features a digital pattern that improves both wear and grip.
Headgear is everywhere. The new V8 helmet, from Charles Owen, features the unique ‘Free Fit’ system, which combines increased airflow across the forehead with Coolmax mesh at the front of the helmet to increase sweat evaporation and cooling. The V8 is coated with heat-reflective paint. Their AYR8 helmet also offers advanced cooling and can be customized with the rider’s choice of 34 piping colors. Both styles feature a six-point patented GRpxharness that locks the helmet onto the occipital bone for ultimate security.
For jumper riders, GPA’s First Lady, KEP Italia, Antares, and Samshield are today’s top brands, according to Courtney. “Samshield is the leader. They offer sleek styling, extensive customization, and a three-sized shell system with replaceable liner that accommodates growth spurts for young riders,” Courtney explained. Samshield offers the basic Shadowmatt and premium Alcantara models. Riders can design their Alcantaraon the Samshield Web site at http://www.samshield.com/configurator/eng/.
Technical shirts have taken over the clothing market for their ease of wear and care. Courtney has some favorites. “At RIDE, we love the new FITS Breeze and Shade show shirts. The construction is unparalleled, they provide UV protection, and they are reasonably priced. We also recommend Equiline’s Victory, Cindy, and Grace shirts, from their standard collection. I also find that Sarm Hippique’s Elise shirt is in constant demand because it has a very simple, finished look,” Courtney said.
In the hunter ring, convertible collar show shirts have been popular for a while. These have a simple snap closure at the neck, and are lined at collar and cuffs with a vibrant fabric lining that can be shown off after your ride. They’re available in classic cotton and technical fabrics.
For schooling or everyday wear in warm climates, several manufacturers including Tailored Sportsman, FITS, and Ariat, offer shirts with mesh panels to promote air circulation. Some offer UV protection as well.
Watch a leading jumper rider blaze around the course, and he or she is undoubtedly sporting one of the new technical jackets. Lightweight, breathable, and weather- and wrinkle-resistant, most of these coats also feature four-way stretch. Some are machine-washable. Many manufacturers offer a range of customization options, so riders don’t “see themselves coming and going.” Canadian brand Grand Prix, for instance, offers 11 collar and pocket options and 35 piping choices. Italian-based Animo offers coats made of static- and odor-resistant BETA CX fabric that feature four buttons and a hidden zippered placket. Courtney is especially fond of three European models that are carving a niche in the American market: Equiline’s Gait (ladies) and Rack (men) coats; Cavalleria Toscana’s unlined tech jacket; and Sarm Hippique’s waterproof tech Verbania coat.
For hunter riders, Tailored Sportsman offers a coat of Schoeller soft-shell fabric that is moisture-wicking, breathable,and stretchy. The styling features the classic three-button front, double-vented back, and flap front pockets that have been a staple in the hunter ring for decades.
FOR THE HORSE
Like clothing, saddle pads are becoming more functional. For a high-quality, relatively low-cost, yet customizable pad, Courtney recommended either Toklat Classics III with wither relief or the Ogilvy square pad. Ogilvy also offers pads with customizable memory foam that adjusts to the horse’s contours for even distribution of pressure.
Equiline offers a line of saddle pads featuring their ACS2 system, which assures optimal moisture-wicking and shock-absorption. Grip Plus technology, available on the Octagon Grip Plus pad, maintains the saddle in the optimum position on the pad. Equiline pads are made of eco-friendly fabrics.
The Rambo and Amigo line of blankets from Horsewear Ireland are familiar brands that have an established reputation for quality and innovation. New this year are rugs with Vari-Layer technology, which provides exceptional warmth at a light weight. The turnout rugs also feature a ballistic nylon exterior with thermobonded fiberfill interior, and an antibacterial/antistatic polyester lining.
Bucas Irish-made rugs are known for durability. The Bucas Smartex and Power heavyweight turnout blankets are designed to protect your horse through a range of temperatures. According to Bucas, the rugs can be put on a wet horse, and the stay-dry lining will quickly wick away moisture so the rug needs no changing. These rugs also feature a “Click’n Go” closure system with a patented stainless steel buckle, shoulder darts for extra room, a ballistic nylon outer shell, and nylon lining to reduce shoulder rubs. The Power rug also has an anti-bacterial lining and a heat reflective inner aluminum coating to keep your horse toasty.
Both Bucas and Horsewear Ireland also produce a line of lightweight moisture-wicking sheets that can be used for travel, to dry horses after exercise or a bath, and as an extra layering piece. These are easier to care for than traditional wool coolers.
Advancements in fabric technology have made it easier for horses and riders to remain comfortable and stylish through a range of activities. Whether you show, school at home, or enjoy wandering out on the trails, stocking your collective wardrobe with a few basic pieces of technical gear will serve you and your horse very well, regardless of the weather.