Equine's Big Test; Competition Wear for Horse & Rider

Mention the myriad of competition gear that you need for one show to a non-equine person and they really don’t get it do they? That age-old adage of why do you need so much springs to mind, but need it you certainly do, and if you compete more than one horse, it double and triples etc!!! So, in this issue our panel members have tested all manner of essential items both for themselves and their horses.
 
Competition Necessities…..
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Noble Outfitters – Ladies Allison Show Shirt
The company says: the perfect combination of elegant fit, luxurious feel and functional versatility. Allison is the perfect show shirt with essential performance qualities that provide ultimate protection and comfort.  Featuring 88% nylon for temperature regulation and durability. Power stretch underarm panel for stretch and ventilation. Opti-Dry Technology and anti-microbial finish. Woven snap collar and cuff with colourful print and velvet ribbon detailing inside. Collar looks good snapped or unsnapped. Cuffs have pearl snap detailing. UPF 50+ protection. Machine washable.  XS-XXL RRP: £49.9. www.nobleoutfitters.co.uk
Our tester, Sally Burns, says: This shirt was very comfortable and size was accurate not too big or small. The fabric used is extremely soft, the length was perfect and long enough to tuck into jodhpurs, and it’s breathable so was pleasant to wear under show jackets. However, it is quite see through so you need to watch what you wear under it! The neck and front is fastened with press poppers so I never felt choked when using with a stock. Washed very well in the machine and looked brand new again when dry plus did not have a lot of creases. I would buy another!
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Dublin – Ladies Pro Form Gel Full Seat Breeches
The company says: A high rise fit breech manufactured from technical fabric for comfort, style and movement. Ezi-Grip full seat for maximum grip and an Air panel cuff for a close fit without the added bulk. Beige, Charcoal, Navy, Navy Plaid & White. Sizes: Ladies 6/24” – 18/36”. RRP: Solid £89.99 / Plaid £94.99. www.dublinclothing.co.uk
Our tester, Clare Chappelhow, says: An exceedingly comfortable and smart pair of breeches. With a mid-rise fit these are flattering to wear and the fabric feels like a second skin. The design around the lower leg of the breeches provides a close comfortable fit, which is super. Those of you who like more grip in the seat area, will find that these breeches provide just that, with their Ezi-Grip gel full seat! I received the navy plaid colour and I’m delighted to report that they look great around the yard and when training away from home. They wash and wear well, all this would encourage me to go out and buy another pair to compete in!
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Harry Hall – Caldene Ladies Buckminster Show Shirt
The company says: Specifically designed to give you the comfort needed for equestrian clothing but the ¾ zip cotton front panel, shaped side panels and short sleeves ensure this competition shirt is still fashionable. Loops on the cotton collar allow you to attach the supplied overcollar or stock tie. The durable stretch microfibre fabric will wick away moisture to keep you cool and dry in the show ring. White or Blue. Sizes: 6-16. RRP: £40.00. www.harryhall.co.uk
Our tester, Barbara Clarkson, says: A great item of clothing for any competitive rider. The fit is fantastic and it is comfortable to wear as it has what seems to be like unlimited stretch. I liked the detachable show jumping collar which comes with it, as this gives the option of wearing a stock, or not, for that discipline and looks very smart. The fabric is cool to wear and on a warm day or under several layers of fleeces as has been the case recently, it takes moisture away from the rider’s skin leaving you feeling dry and comfortable even when you are working hard! The shirt has remained white despite several runs through the washing machine, its shape has not altered and the texture of the fabric has remained as new. I cannot fault this at all and look forward to its continued use through the season. It would be lovely to have this made in a range of day to day colours because it’s so good to wear.
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
WeatherBeeta - All Purpose Saddle Pad with Merino Edging
The company says: Soft durable polycotton quilted outer with added premium thick rolled sheep wool to look like a built in half pad. PVC covered girth patch for added durability Machine washable. Dressage pad also available. Black, Chocolate, & White. 17” & 17.5” RRP: GP -£47.99 / Dressage - £49.99. www.weatherbeeta.co.uk
Our tester, John Collier, says: First impression - an attractive saddle pad, small diamond stitching, with a merino wool wither piece and seat surround. I have been using this on a school horse; it fits well and most importantly, stayed in place. It was a nicer fit after an initial washing and it’s continued to look good. Robust hook and loop fastening girth straps are standing up well to use. A good day-to-day saddle pad which will prove to be a good buy. I’m pleased with it and would happily buy more.
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Equithème - Equit’M Zipped Competition Polo Shirt (short sleeved)
The company says: In stretch and breathable fabric (92% polyamide and 8% elastane). Tailored cut and fitted sleeves with underlining seams in front and backside, and comfort zone at shoulders. High white zip collar on contrasted band. Chest patch. Screen-printing and striped decorative band on backside. Machine washable at 30°C. White. Sizes XS – L. RRP: £36.90
Our tester, Caroline Powell, says: Eventually the wet weather has started to disappear and we can begin to think about summer clothing. I have been pleased with this polo, the soft seams completed the tailored cut of the shirt, and the stretch and breathable material made for a comfortable days competing under my competition riding jacket. I opted for a medium size which fitted very well on the body and the high collar with zip went a good length up my neck so it sat around my neck line very well. I don't like to jump in stocks so it's very important that the finish is good which this is, with a complementing blue contrasting edge. The logos and details added to the style of the shirt so there were no worries when I took my jacket off that I wasn’t looking smart!  Hopefully the season will kick off in earnest soon and I will look forward to giving the shirt further outings!!
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Harry Hall – Men’s Competition Jacket
The company says: The ideal men's competition jacket and suitable for many disciplines. The stretch fabric and rear riding vents ensure comfort in the saddle whilst the zip pockets and subtle brand buttons add a modern, fashionable touch. Black. 36”-46” RRP: £145.00. Ladies style also available in Navy or Black, sizes 6-18. RRP: £135.00. www.harryhall.com
Our tester, Jon Fletcher, says: This is a very smart and neat looking jacket suitable for competition riding and personally fits me really well. Three branded black and silver metal buttons fasten the front of the jacket and there is one decorative button at the end of each sleeve. It also comes with some spares. The jacket is made from a soft, stretchy material that kind of moulds to you and is not restrictive at all, giving great freedom of movement, which as a showjumper, is very important. It is very well made and the material feels strong with a bit of weight to it and is extremely comfortable to compete in. There are two front zipped pockets and one on the breast that is sewn up but can be picked open and used if you wished.
Machine washable and very reasonably priced.
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Roeckl – Roeck Grip Gloves
The company says: Made from an exclusive material which is extremely breathable, elastic and supple, meaning the gloves fit like a second skin. The non-slip material provides a very good feel and grip on the reins as well being machine washable and touchscreen compatible. A touch tape fastening secures the gloves around your wrist. These versatile gloves are suitable for hacking, shows or even racing - they're very comfortable and durable. Machine washable. Multiple colour choice. RRP: around £29.95. Available from all good equine retailers or for further information contact: Tamara Czartoryski at www.hcsporthorses.com
Our tester, Chris Grant, says: These gloves are just the bee’s knees. As soon as you pick them up you can feel how soft they are and when you put them on they are so comfortable. The supple material gives you a great freedom of movement whilst wearing them which in turn gives you a great feel of the reins. Additionally they have a super grip and for all the mobile phone addicts like me, they are touchscreen compatible too, a great save on not having to take gloves on and off. The hook and loop fastener is very comfortable and secures the gloves well around your wrist. They so far seem to be very durable, the leather style material also being able to go in the washing machine, keeping them pristine for competition use. The design has a very professional look, great for the show ring or dressage arena and a very welcome addition to my competition attire.
 
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Dublin – Ladies Bristol Soft Shell Show Jacket
The company says: A modern style three popper show jacket manufactured in a technical, breathable, lightweight and water-resistant softshell fabric with underarm mesh vents for added breathability. Machine washable for easy care. The jacket is unlined with flattering princess seam construction, shoulder pads and has waist-defining seams and details at back. Double-vented back for comfort and freedom of movement. Two front flap pockets, inner glove/treat pocket and subtle branded buttons on front and sleeves, white/navy paisley printed cotton facing. Comes with a complimentary Dublin coat bag and hanger. Black or Navy. Sizes: 8/32” – 16/40”. RRP: £104.99. www.dublinclothing.co.uk
Our tester, Terri Graham, says: Standard length, lightweight sleeves generous in length. Three buttons which have popper fasteners with D logo on them plus three tiny buttons on each sleeve end. Double vented back panel helps the jacket to drape smoothly lending a little more elegance to the fit. The length is good but I found the waist a bit generous. Dry clean or wash in cold water. Have to say I would be a bit nervous of washing it myself! On the front of the jacket there are two neat pockets. I think this is a good value for money show jacket perhaps go a size smaller for a sharper fit. When we finally get warm weather this will be a winner in the cool and comfortable stakes. I had the jacket dry cleaned and it came back as well as it started.
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Noble Outfitters – Men’s Softshell Breeches
The company says: Made with added 4 way stretch for the most flattering and comfortable fit. The secure silicone grip knee patches and reflective logo detailing help to keep you secure and safe in the saddle. Protective opti-dry technology to help regulate heat and wick moisture away. Mid-rise, Euro seat design; Front zip closure; Extra belt loop at left hip with signature stripe; YKK® zip hand pocket at front left; Silicone grip knee patches. Traditional Tan or Black. Sizes: 28” – 40”. RRP: £89.95. www.nobleoutfitters.co.uk
Our tester, Ben Hobday, says: I can’t believe how much I love these breeches! When I first saw them I though they wouldn’t have been ones I would normally buy but, having worn them, my mind has been completely changed! The softshell material is incredibly comfortable and flexible so allow freedom of movement and the fleece-like lining on the inside kept my legs so much warmer than standard breeches. This has been particularly helpful with all this bad weather we’ve been having. In the past I’ve found fleece-lined breeches to be quite thick and bulky, making them rather restrictive, however these have been quite the opposite. They have kept me warm but are lightweight and breathable. Another bonus is that the material seems to be virtually water and wind repellent, the rain runs off them and I barely felt the cold wind, so perfect for winter wear too. The fit too is great as they aren’t too tight, but have enough material so that I could move freely in them. They sit high on my hip area and have too pleats at the front to give a looser look. Two front zipped pockets are big enough for me to fit my iphone in which is a priority and there is a smaller zip pocket at the rear. The knee patches have the company’s ‘N’ logo printed all over in rubbery/grippy writing, which is quite cool! Overall, these are the most comfy pair of breeches I’ve ever had and I think I’ll struggle to find others that do the job as well as these do. A must, must have!! (photo – softshellbreech)
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Aztec Diamond – Ladies Diagonal Show Shirt
The company says: Made from high quality textured fabric that houses wicking and cooling technologies making sure you stay cool and comfortable whilst in the saddle. Finished with decorative modern panelling features on both the back and the front. A high neck zip opening on the front makes this shirt perfect for competition or training with the collar being able to be worn fully closed or folded down like a polo. Burgundy, Navy, Stone & White. Size: 4-16. RRP: £40.00. www.aztecdiamondequestrian.com
Our tester, Susan Lacey, says: My first impression was that I liked the look of this shirt as it looked to be shaped to fit a ladies figure. Once on it looked as good as I initially thought. Smart , close fitting but not clinging, and can been used with or without stock. I particularly like the way the two toned colours are used look to slim the waist - I need all the help I can get nowadays. Fits lovely under a jacket and no bulging when tucked in to your breeches. An all-round great competition shirt, washes well, dries easily and quickly would be an asset to anybody’s wardrobe.
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Noble Outfitters – Ladies Signature Full Seat Breeches
The company says: Full seat patches made from Toray Ultrasuede® provides extra grip when in the saddle. Front zip pocket for extra security. 4-way stretch material for the most flattering and comfortable fit; Opti-Dry Technology wicks moisture away; Extra belt loop at left hip. Lightweight stretch hem reduces bulk inside boot. UPF50+. Machine washable. Light Tan or White. Sizes: 22R to 34R. RRP: £99.95. www.nobleoutfitters.co.uk
Our tester, Caroline Mosely, says: LOVE the colour, I always find that beige colours can be awful and prefer them to be a bit on the darker side. These are perfect for this, go well with my tweed jacket and look really smart on. They are fitted and comfortable, fully washable even with a full suede seat. The seat is perfect for anyone looking for a ‘sticky’ bum pair. The material is hard wearing and good quality, and the stretch makes them comfortable to wear.  They have a stretchy thin hem at the bottom so fit perfectly under boots, I hate it when you get thick lumpy bits under the boot so the hem is perfect as it avoids this.
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
SSG – Hybrid Gloves
The company says: The perfect combination of a genuine cabretta leather back with a synthetic leather Aquasuede plus palm for good grip, breathability and exceptional durability and comfort. The wrist has a hook and eye closure for a snug fit and offers technical quality plus appearance and grip ideal for any discipline. Black; White & Brown/Tan. Sizes: 6-10. RRP: £35.99. www.mackey.ie
Our tester, Val Williams, says: These are really super, in fact the best riding gloves I have had. They have fantastic grip even in wet weather and, the great thing is that the palms absorb sweat and so your hands stay cool. The backs are a lovely soft leather and have a hook and loop fastener which allows the fit to be adjustable to hand width. They don’t restrict movement when riding, are very comfortable to wear and the palms are quite grippy, so make riding pleasurable. They are, in fact, more comfortable than leather ones. I thought they may shrink when washing as so many other gloves I’ve had tend to do, but they don’t shrink at all and are machine washable. In fact they are brilliant.
 
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Mark Todd – Men’s Winter Performance Breeches
The company says: Offering additional protection from the elements, these extremely practical breeches are manufactured in water resistant and breathable Tactel fabric. Featuring a brushed backing for added warmth and a four-way stretch for comfort and freedom of movement. Euro seat design, ultra grip knee patches and slimline sock ankle. Beige or Navy. Sizes: 30” – 38”. RRP: £89.99. Ladies sizes also available – 24”-34”. RRP: £79.99. www.marktoddcollection.co.uk

Our tester Paul Malone says: These have been a godsend over the past few months when we’ve been battling against the elements almost every day. I must admit that I was a little sceptical at first that these breeches would be showerproof, warm and breathable… but I’m pleased to say that I was most definitely wrong! Being fairly tall (6’2”), I have found that older breeches from this brand are a little too short in the leg for me. These breeches, however, seem a little longer in the leg and are helped by the lycra leg closure, rather than the older ‘Velcro’ type closure. I have used these breeches day after day for schooling and have found them to be fantastic to ride in, even on the coldest of days. They’re a nice relaxed fit and have enough stretch to be very comfortable in the saddle. They’ve been through the wash umpteen times and come out like new. I’ve also found that the fabric on these dries very quickly, making them ideal during the cold and damp months, and great for throwing through the wash and having them back on the following day! It is also worth pointing out that the fabric of these breeches seems far less prone to picking up dirt and marks than natural fibres – very much an added bonus! If you’re keen on staying warm and dry, you can’t go wrong with these!

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Noble Outfitters – Ladies Ashley Base Layer
The company says: An essential technical equestrian base layer made with Opti-dry technology to control moisture and UPF 50+ rated fabric for ultimate protection. An integral stock loop, ultra-breathable mesh back and princess seam side panels, provide protection, breathability and a flattering fit, all in one. Stock loop at back of neck; Reflective logo detailing. Plum, Hyacinth; Duchess Blue; Mint; White; Periwinkle; Ice and Powder Blue. Sizes: XS – XXL. RRP: £44.95. www.nobleoutfitters.co.uk
Our tester, Josella Scott, says: What timing to be sent a thermal base layer just when we were being bitten by that Beast from The East. I can honestly say it has well and truly been 'tried and tested'. In fact I am sure it helped keep hypothermia at bay.  It was warm, breathable and comfortable. It washed, maintained its shape and dried quickly. I especially liked the lace detailing on the sleeve and the colour was bright and cheerful. My only negative on this garment was the top of the zip at the neckline was so positioned that when done up it irritated my skin. Just could have been finished off with a little more care. Apart from that one issue I would still happily recommend this baselayer as one of the best I have worn. Although Spring will soon be upon us, I have a feeling that this versatile top will be not be put away just yet.
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
HKM Sports – Cavallino Merino Rimini Saddle Cloth & Polar Fleece Bandages
The company says: Stunning saddlecloth with a fast moisture absorption lining to aid sweat soak up and comfort. Hook and loop fastenings on the keepers, foam and cotton wool filling for a great fit and anatomically formed. Sizes: Pony GP; Pony Dressage, General Purpose & Dressage. RRP: £39.95. 5cm wide polar fleece bandages, with hook & loop fastenings for a great fit. Easy care and hard wearing, set of four that comes in a gift box. Great bandages, all matching the range. RRP: 200cm £35.95 & 300cm £37.95. Both available in White; Camel; Turquoise & Deep Grey. www.hkm-sports.com

 

Our tester, Pam Harrison, says: Stunning is something of an understatement – this saddlecloth is sumptuous! Enough bling to stand out without, in my fairly traditional view, being in any way OTT. I was sent the dressage style in white and the generous depth ensures the girth fits easily leaving plenty of spine clearance under the shaped centre seam. It washes well, although the filling did take a little time to dry completely. It will definitely help any horse look the business!
The bandages are definitely eyecatching, long enough for even the tallest horse and don’t slip in use. They wash well, but I’ll be keeping these for when the drier weather finally arrives, as I was sent white ones and using them in wet weather means washing after every use – which is easy - to keep them pristine! Beautiful packaging too, which would make them a wonderful gift!
 
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Harry Hall – Caldene Ladies Aintree Breeches
The company says: These low waisted breeches are crafted using a 4-way stretch woven fabric and lightweight close contact cuff. Featuring zip front and two hook and bar fastenings, the breeches are finished with a full synthetic suede seat. Black; Canary; Corn & White. Sizes: 6-16 – Short; Regular; Long & Extra Long. RRP: £97.00. www.harryhall.com
Our tester, Gail Smith, says: These breeches are made from great quality fabric, as I would expect from this company. They have been very comfortable, which is a must, and they have the elasticated cuffs at the bottom so you don’t get any rubs from hook and loop fastenings. I was very pleased with the colour, especially with the sticky bum on, and I felt very stylish and smart when competing in them. They gave me support in the saddle without restricting my movement, which is important. It’s great that they have belt loops so you can wear one if you want and they have discreet front pockets which are very useful! I really like these, especially for competing in. They wash really well too which is always a bonus with the frequent washing that all breeches need!
 
 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Kastel - Charlotte Signature Shirt
The company says: This long sleeve shirt is fast becoming a cross country staple, and is also perfect for training or as a show shirt. The ultra-comfortable odour-free and fast-drying material blend is completely breathable with mesh inserts to help keep you cool when active, and it also offers complete UV protection. Available in a variety colour combinations. Sizes: XXXS–XL. RRP: £69.99. http://www.zebraproducts.co.uk/brands/kastel
Our tester, Rachel Thomas, says: I really like the shirt, the material is perfect for wearing whilst working and riding, it fits well without being at all restrictive plus it’s warm, but also breathable, so you don’t end up sweating then getting cold. I like the long sleeves and the cut, and it’s also very flattering to wear which is always a bonus!! The other thing I really approved of is that the zip toggle is plastic and sits down well, so you don’t end up being hit in the chin all the time by a metal one!