Review: Arctic Horse Outlander Wool Skirt

Despite growing up in the frigid North, I am a pansy about being cold. I still prefer it to being over heated because you can *almost* always put on more layers – you can’t always take them off – but I still don’t like it unless being cold means I can curl up in front of the fire in sweatpants with a good book. When it comes to riding, I have tried just about everything and have come to the conclusion that I just don’t like riding in bad weather. And right now the whole country is stuck with bad weather!

So when I saw an ad on Facebook for Arctic Horse’s winter riding skirts (sitting in the bath tub trying to warm up after doing trot sets in a downpour), I was intrigued with the concept. The idea behind it made a lot of sense. Much like mittens versus gloves, the skirt helps heat the air around you to keep you warm. It also works as a quarter sheet and traps the heat coming off your horse. Simple enough right?

But does it actually work?

Obviously I had to find out.

Arctic Horse has several different versions of their skirts from fully insulated snow skirts to mesh lined rain skirts. Since I live in the South now, which is *supposed* to be warm, I settled on the Wool Outlander Skirt and the mesh lined Tongass Rain Skirt. I figured the Outlander Skirt would be the right amount of warmth for Georgia winters and the Tongass Rain Skirt would be good for those spring and fall days where the rain just wouldn’t stop but it was still warm out.

Well, we were having an unseasonably long and warm fall so I was kind of worried I wouldn’t be able to use my skirt at all but along with the box came the arctic temperatures. Winter had arrived. So I buckled the Outlander skirt on over my winter breeches and headed out for my lesson.

And I honestly haven’t wanted to take it off since!

At first it was hard to tell if I felt warmer while tacking up Gus, but as soon as I buckled up the sides to put my boots on, I realized how much warmer having the skirt around me was. It really had kept the air around my legs warm! I also stayed nice and toasty during my rides (though I usually take it off once my lesson starts so that my trainer can see my position… and then she steals the skirt!). And then when I dismounted and found that I could still feel my feet and I didn’t get that painful sensation of landing on frozen toes (I’m not the only one right?) I knew this skirt was a winner.

While I’ve only been riding in the Outlander, I did bring the Tongass out with me for the winter photo shoot. Even though the Currant color has mesh lining versus fleece and is basically just an outer shell it kept the wind out so well that I barely noticed the cold.

And if staying warm and dry is not enough, the care put into the design of these skirts is amazing. The pockets are deep, zippered and fleece lined! That was a nice little surprise. There are also snaps that you can use to pull the flaps up to mount – a very handy feature! – and straps to secure the skirt around your leg if you are feeling like you need a good gallop – though I’ve cantered without the straps and the Outlander, at least, is heavy enough to stay in place while moving.

While these skirts are a little pricey for something purchased on a whim (I purchased the Outlander Wool for $299) so far it has been worth every penny.

I’ll do another review once I’ve had a chance to use the Tongass skirt more but if my experience is anything like what I’ve had with the Outlander, I don’t expect it will be anything but glowing praise.

Goodies

The only good part about buying a horse in the fall is that you can take advantage of all the great Black Friday sales to buy things you didn’t realize you’d need two of now that you have two horses.

Some of the more fun things are not pictured due to them being custom. I can’t wait until they come!

But one thing I didn’t actually buy during Black Friday but that came shortly after has become my all time favorite purchase of 2017: the Arctic Horse Riding skirt.

I bought two, the wool Outlander and the Tongass rain skirt. I’ll do a more in depth review when I’ve actually had more time with them but I am in love with them.

We finally got a bit of a cold snap and I was able to wear the wool skirt to the barn. I stayed so warm! As soon as I took it off for my lesson, I started to freeze. Also, my trainer promptly stole it to put on under her big puffy long coat.

I can’t wait for it to rain so I can try out the rain skirt!

White Breeches Showdown

With our first recognized trial just around the corner, I realized I should probably get my butt in gear and find a new pair of white full seat breeches. I know you can ride in beige for all phases at the BN but I like the look of the white. And, I have to take advantage of riding in white now while Gus is still gray! It won’t be long until I’m battling with the dingy look.

So, I ordered four pairs of white full seats. The first, the Kerrits Cross-Over Full Seats, looked so bad on me that I immediately sent them back without taking pictures. I was disappointed because I’ve seen lots of peopleR wearing these and I’ve always thought they looked so nice. Plus the price was great.

That left me with three more options, two from Romfh and one from Ovation.

Ovation DX Celebrity Slim Secret Full Seats

I ordered these specifically because I love my Ovation Aqua X breeches so much. I had hoped that they would fit the same and have a lot of the same features. Well, I could check the box off on both of those counts. The fit was great and they had my sock bottoms (something that I found lacking in the Romfhs).

However, the material felt more like cotton than the moisture wicking fabric I liked. For winter shows, or anywhere that doesn’t have the intense humidity that Georgia does, I would be fine with this. But I’ve had a pair of full seats in this type of material before and trying to pull them off between phases in my trailer? No thank you.  Plus, they were the thinnest of the batch and I didn’t like how it looked like I was wearing shorts. No go.

Romfh Women’s Isabella White Full Seats

These breeches were an immediate nope the minute I put them on. The fit just wasn’t good on me. If I had liked them otherwise I may have tried a size smaller since they just seemed too big all the way around, but I didn’t. Negative point one, no sock bottoms. They aren’t Velcro but they aren’t really sock bottoms either. Negative point two, the weird weird belt loops. You can see me in my pictures that it looks like there is space for a tiny belt above my belt. I do not like this look.

I do like how light weight the material is and I imagine it would be very comfortable in the Georgia heat. And, to give more props, they were not very see thru. A big plus! In the end though, these were not the full seats for me either.

Romfh Sarafina Full Seat Breeches

The Sarafina breeches had everything I liked about the Isabella and had fixed just about everything I didn’t like. Still no sock bottom… get on that Romfh! But the crazy extra belt loops were gone and the fit was so much better. That fabric seems a little thicker but still very light weight. I knew right away that these were the ones.

Unfortunately, these were the most expensive of the batch. Such is life. I have champagne taste on a beer budge.

Review: Ovation Aqua-X Breeches

When I read Amanda’s glowing review of the Ovation Aqua-X knee patch breeches, I randomly decided to purchase a pair. I really didn’t have a need to, I have plenty of schooling quality breeches even if they aren’t very good breeches and I would like to get rid of them (wait, that’s a reason, right?). So I found a Riding Warehouse coupon and placed my order for a pair of full seats and knee patch.

They came the Thursday before the Poplar schooling show and, since they were so cute on and pretty comfy, I decided to wear them on that Friday. I wore them ALL DAY. No joke. I woke up and was on my way out to the barn around 8:00 am. I hooked up my trailer. I packed up hay and tack and shavings. I loaded Gus. I drove three hours to Poplar. I set up my stall. I set up my camping space. And all the while I felt like I was wearing the most comfortable broken in jeans. But better. And I absolutely loved being able to go from walking around to riding to working without worrying about what I was wearing.

This was also a good indicator of just how well they will hold up which so far is so good. I haven’t had any issues with stitching and they look like brand new after coming out of the wash.

The Ovation Aqua –X have all the little features that I require in my breeches these days like wide belt loops, euroseat, and sock bottoms (death to Velcro!) and I love the nylon/lycra blend material. While I haven’t had a chance to wear these in the middle of a brutal Atlanta summer, so far they do seem to keep me cooler than anything else I’ve used.

The knee patch breeches have the silicone knee patches and I wasn’t sure how I felt about them at first. They are very shiny and I was worried that they would get scratched or ruined easily. They have not and I’ve come around to liking them. The full seats have your standard synthetic seat.

Long story short, I am in love with these breeches. On more than one occasion I have come home from the barn and just lounged away the rest of the evening in them. I want a pair in every single color and I want Ovation to make more colors. I would be thrilled if they came out with a white/gray option in the full seats (or knee patch!)… Ovation… if you see this… hint hint!

You can find these breeches at Riding Warehouse for $116.95 for both the full seats and the knee patches. If  you end up trying them, let me know what  you think! 

Book Review: Ambition

Ambition by Natalie Keller Reinert

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Synopsis

“Jules Thornton didn’t come to Ocala to make friends. She came to make a name for herself. Young, determined, and tough as nails, she’s been swapping stable-work for saddle-time since she was a little kid – and it hasn’t always been a fun ride. Forever the struggling rider in a sport for the wealthy, all Jules has on her side is talent and ambition. She’s certain all she needs to succeed are good horses, but will the eventing world agree?

On her own at last, Jules is positive she’s poised to become eventing’s newest star, but soon finds she’s making more enemies than friends in the close-knit equestrian community. Little mistakes cost big — her students are losing faith in her; her owners are starting to pull their horses. And then there’s the small matter of Peter Morrison, the handsome, on-the-rise event rider who keeps showing up when she least expects him.

Jules is convinced that all she needs is good horses — not friends, not romance, not anyone’s nose in her business. But it’s just the beginning of the long, hot, Ocala summer, and as Jules tumbles through the highs and lows of a life with horses, she might find she’ll need help after all to weather the coming storm.”

– from Amazon.com

Review

In a lot of ways, this book is the eventing version of The Dressage Chronicles. The author has first hand experience with the upper levels if eventing and that shines through the pages. It’s very nice to not be thrown out of the story due to a minor detail that just doesn’t ring true. 

That all being said, it took me a bit to get into the story as the main character, Jules, is definitely prickly. Her ambition is all consuming and sometime makes it look like Jules cares more about winning than the horses. 

This is not the case though and, while Jules doesn’t get any softer, her heart eventually wins the readers over. More than that, she’s scrappy and bold and I know I wish I was like that occasionally! 

Also like The Dressage Chronicles the story brings the readers into a world that a lot of people don’t see and that few authors like to discuss which is just how hard the professional Equestrian life is when you aren’t born with money. While Jules mostly lands on her feet, things are not easy between natural disasters,  typical horse shenanigans, and difficult clients. 

Then there’s the attractive Pete, a fellow trainer and competitor who is doing his best to win Jules’ heart…

Final Thoughts

While it took me a few chapters to get into the story, by the end I was eagerly turning the pages wanting to know what happened next. In fact, I’ve already downloaded and started reading the second book, Pride. It’s really nice reading an book about eventing written by someone who actually events and has worked with upper level riders. Currently, the book is free on Kindle Unlimited or you can buy it on Kindle for $1.99 and for that, it is so worth it.