Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping… especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? While I get SUPER excited to browse tack shops in person (and online), sometimes even I’m slightly intimidated when I look through the seemingly endless number of options of equine-related products available. As an enthusiast of many types of equine products, I LOVE trying out new gear—for myself, or my horses. Which is why I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to try out products that companies have generously sent to me, so that I may share my personal experiences with all of you! Some of the products featured are from our totally awesome EN sponsors, while other products are unique, new, and/or interesting items. This column is meant only for me to narrate my personal journey, and share my own opinions and experiences with all of the products featured. Of course, every horse and rider is a unique individual, so each product may perform differently for you and your horse then it does for me—after all, different things work for different people (and horses!), and that is all part of the variety of life! While I will make no recommendations to you, I hope that you simply have fun and find entertainment while reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences might help give you factors to consider when you are on your own quest for new gear!
Ok, I’m just going to come right out and admit it–I’m a bit of a clothes junkie. It’s not like I’m a fashionista or anything like that, but I always appreciate a well put together outfit that lends to a polished appearance. This is a facet of myself that has developed over the years. Because let’s face it, when I was a horse-crazy girl, the last thing that I thought about was what I was wearing (I just threw on the first pair of breeches and top that I could find…even if it was out of the laundry pile, and slightly horse-slobbered up). Being on a budget, I started out with a single pair of breeches when I first began riding. I remember them clear-as-day – a pair of black, knee-patch, front-zip breeches, with those little adjustable Velcro closures at the bottoms of the legs. I wore those breeches. A lot. Eventually they had to be retired. At that age though, I was just SO excited to be riding, that it didn’t really matter what I was wearing.
These days, however, I definitely think a lot more about my riding apparel then I used to. Things like function in the saddle, fit, comfort, price and even style are all important factors to consider when I’m on the hunt for a new top or pair of breeches. As a person of height (I’m 5’9″…which pretty much works with my two gi-normous young horses that I have in training!), I often have difficulty shopping for pants. It’s pretty much a nightmare trying to find a pair of jeans or pants that are actually long enough–finding the elusive brands that carry tall sizes can be a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, it’s a bit easier to find long sizes in breeches than it is jeans. I also tend to look for breeches that have an integrated sock, as I do like it when they contour nicely to the bottom of my legs. A waistband that fits (and doesn’t gap) is also pretty high up on my list in terms of importance as well, since most times I ride without a belt. Breeches that would work well for me should also feel like they are made from material that is nice and smooth, and feel like it will hold up to frequent wearing and washing.
Recently, I had the opportunity to try out two pairs of breeches from Ariat‘s lineup–the Heritage and the Olympia. Ariat has an extensive line of breeches to offer, which includes multiple collections that feature options such as different fabrics, colors and styles. Their line-up is broken into three separate tiers: the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels, each with their own level of technical performance and stylish details. The Bronze is the entry-level tier, and it includes Ariat’s Heritage collection of breeches, which are designed to offer comfort at a great value. The mid-level Silver tier takes things up a notch to provide breeches that give the rider a little something extra in terms of performance and style; this tier includes both the Prix and the Performer collections. Rounding things out is the Gold tier, which includes both the Olympia and Triumph collections. Gold tier breeches have been developed to provide the highest level of performance out of all of Ariat’s collections, by focusing on the details–such as being made out of Schoeller prestige four-way stretch fabric. All styles of Ariat’s breeches include their own patented V3 Fit System. The V3 technology is a design that includes a small ‘V’ shaped panel at the rear center of the waistband, and is meant to provide a fit that works for riders of varying body shapes. Ariat also does offer denim breeches as well, for a more casual look.
Keeping in line with Ariat’s tiers, I decided to start out by trying the Heritage breeches. The pair of Heritage breeches that I have been fortunate to be able to try are black in color (which in itself is fantastic for camouflaging anything that your horse can rub on them!). The fabric of the breeches is nice, yet durable feeling. They are not as smooth or lightweight as some of the performance breeches that I have felt, but the cotton blend fabric that they are made out of feels soft to the touch. The Heritage breeches are also nice and stretchy feeling (and in fact, the fabric does offer a four-way stretch). When I pulled on the pair of Heritage full seat breeches for the first time, they felt nice. The only thing that I noticed was that the integrated sock was a little roomy on my calf and ankle – my ankles are on the thin side though. The integrated sock is definitely a feature that I like to see in breeches, and it is nice that this particular sock is roomy enough so that it would seem to be comfortable for a wider range of riders. I’ve worn the Heritage breeches for many rides at this point, and they have held up very well so far; they are terrific as a pair of schooling breeches, and I would say that they could probably cross over for some schooling shows just fine.
After the Heritage collection, I was really excited to jump up to the Gold tier to give the Olympia collection a try. While there were a number of differences between the Heritage and Olympia breeches (mainly fabric and the little details that up the ante on in the style department), some things stayed the same; for example, both featured Ariat’s V3 Fit and Calf Fit Systems. Those features aside though, the Olympia breeches do feel so nice and smooth both to the touch, and when I pulled them on to ride in. Along with the super smooth feel, they also include extra little stylish details, such as having piping along the pockets, and an embroidered Ariat logo above the pocket on the left side. The Euro Seat cut coupled with the knee-patch style allows the breeches to maintain a traditional looking appearance, while being comfortable at the same time. They are made out of Bluesign-certified Schoeller four-way stretch fabric, that feels great and looks very professional and flattering. I would definitely call them breeches for the show ring, that can also be used for schooling as well.
In the saddle, both the Heritage and the Olympia breeches from Ariat performed well for me. The fit felt like it worked for me, with the V3 Fit System doing what it was meant to. The breeches were both comfortable to ride in, but I found myself gravitate towards the Heritage for my every day schooling; I certainly like the feel of the Olympia breeches when I am wearing them, but they seemed a bit fancy for my every day work – though they really would be flashy even to wear to a lesson now every once in a while too. Again, one of the only things that I really noticed was that the integrated sock was a tad roomy on my more slender ankles. The integrated sock still felt good to me when I pulled my tall boots on over them though, so it worked in my case. The Heritage collection of breeches retails starting at $94.95, while the Olympia collection retails starting at $209.95.
Go Comfort & Style. Go Ariat. Go Eventing.