Product Review: Frilly Fillies Dressage Ear Bonnet

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? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.

I found that since the Frilly Fillies bonnet was crafted based on the measurements that I provided, the fit was just right - giving it a really clean and elegant (there's that word yet again) appearance - Photo by Lorraine Peachey I found that since the Frilly Fillies bonnet was crafted based on the measurements that I provided, the fit was just right - giving it a really clean and elegant (there's that word yet again) appearance - Photo by Lorraine Peachey

While I’m not the most ‘blingy’ person per say, I’ve developed an affinity for things that offer an extra bit of sparkle or shine in recent years. And I’ve actually got a theory about that: when you’re 5 years old, everything sparkly is the most awesome thing ever. At age 10, sparkles are still pretty rad. By age 15, wearing something sparkly is quite possibly the lamest idea ever — and is something that only small children or “old people” would do. Things don’t change much at age 20.

By age 25 though, I had what I would call a shift in perspective. I started to see sparkly or shiny things as being a fun way to add a little bit of fabulous to my outfits. If tastefully used, shine or sparkle could really be used to help add a little accent of pop to my appearance, rather then just make me look like a kindergartner or my grandmother. But the key sentiment in that case is tasteful.

I’ve got pretty firm limits on the amount of sparkle that can be added in order to remain in what I could consider to be the tasteful category. So, if I wear a sparkly sweater, I best keep everything else pretty understated. Same rule if I pull out my silver sequin flats for the day. Unless I want to look like I’m trying to be some sort of fairy princess with sparkles all over the place, I stick to one item as a focal point.

I’m also not super into any kind of flashy jewelry, which really goes along with my ‘non-blingy’ tendencies. Choosing understated pieces of jewelry allows me more freedom to have fun with my wardrobe. So I tend to prefer adding a pair of conservative and understated pair of earrings, rather than wearing something that stands out too much.

I’m pretty much of the same mindset when I’m decking out my horses – because there’s a fine line between tasteful and tacky. And that’s a line that I don’t want to cross. I certainly have a lot of fun with color coordination and adding a little bit of glam when the chance arises. Because I love matching up my colors. And adding some shine. And maybe some sparkle too.

Dressage is something that I’ve always been able to appreciate — it may not be the most exciting thing in the world to your average eventer, but I spent a lot of time on the flat with my gelding, Ripley. There is just some about feeling like you are moving in perfect harmony with your horse that is oh-so lovely.

There are also three bonnet styles available to choose from - I chose the more traditional looking 'original straight' bonnet cut - though you can also choose a 'curved' bonnet, or a 'v' bonnet - Photo by Lorraine Peachey

There are also three bonnet styles available to choose from – I chose the more traditional looking ‘original straight’ bonnet cut – though you can also choose a ‘curved’ bonnet, or a ‘v’ bonnet – Photo by Lorraine Peachey

But the dressage ring is a time and place for being conservative — instead of going totally color crazy, like I would for cross country, I must rein myself in and choose to be understated. Which means no red or blue saddle pads, that’s for darn sure. Fortunately, there are still fun and tasteful ways to be able to infuse a little bit of color on the flat.

And I’ve found that adding an ear bonnet is just the way to incorporate color into my horse’s look, while maintaining a look that is both elegant and understated. Along with adding a bit of fun and flair, ear bonnets are also functional as well – especially when temperatures rise and biting insects are plentiful. So I’ve been very excited for my horses to don custom bonnets from Frilly Fillies.

When I first heard about Frilly Fillies custom bonnets, I was really interested to learn more. I mean, the concept of a fully customized fly bonnet that is handmade in the U.S.A.? Must. Learn. More. And so I did. I was oh-so excited to learn about the high quality materials and the care of the workmanship that goes into each and every bonnet from Frilly Fillies.

I was really very excited to be able to work with Frilly Fillies to pick out my own colors, and see the results when beautifully crafted bonnets arrived as my doorstep. I think the most difficult part was picking exactly the right colors – because I’m so indecisive.

The bonnet fits two of my horses really well, and through all of the use, it has held up just beautifully, and it does not appear to be showing any wear - Photo by Lorraine Peachey

The bonnet fits two of my horses really well, and through all of the use, it has held up just beautifully, and it does not appear to be showing any wear – Photo by Lorraine Peachey

But the great thing was, that I worked directly with Nancy (owner and creative genius behind Frilly Fillies), and she was able to help guide me through the color choosing process by making recommendations. After all, she has seen firsthand how all of the color combinations turn out on all of the custom orders that she has produced to date.

It was also extremely helpful to be able to visit the Products section of the Frilly Fillies website, where a photo has been posted of each and every bonnet that has ever been created is posted. This is a great way to see just how different color combinations look with each other, and also what the different embellishment options look like as well. The Dressage bonnet that Nancy created for me is a navy colored base, with bright red trim and silver piping.

In addition to picking out your colors (and embellishment, if you desire), the other important step to customizing a bonnet for your horse is capturing their measurements. Considering the bonnets that I’ve had in the past that have a bit of a flop at the ear tips, I was very glad that Frilly Fillies not only produces their bonnets in custom colors, but they also craft them to fit your horse’s ears.

Two measurements are needed to get the proper sizing for your Frilly Fillies bonnet - the ear measurement, and the poll measurement - Photo by Lorraine Peachey

Two measurements are needed to get the proper sizing for your Frilly Fillies bonnet – the ear measurement, and the poll measurement – Photo by Lorraine Peachey

Two measurements are needed to get the proper sizing: the ear measurement, and the poll measurement. To measure the ears, you should start at the base (where the ear meets the head), press down slightly as the bridle would lay, and measure up to the tip. And to measure the poll, you should measure the distance between your horse’s ears across the poll (or the top of your horse’s head).

When the box from Frilly Fillies arrived at my doorstep, I was very excited to see the bonnets inside. Upon pulling out the navy colored Dressage bonnet, I was definitely impressed with the quality of the yarn. The yarn that the bonnet is crafted out of feels nice and soft to the touch. There are also three styles available to choose from. I chose the more traditional looking ‘original straight’ bonnet cut,  though you can also choose a ‘curved’ bonnet, or a ‘v’ bonnet.

I also was exceedingly pleased with the fabric that the ears are crafted out of. They are a straight knit jersey fabric that feels soft, stretchy and quite breathable. Other options for the ear fabric include: stretch velvet, stretch Ice Fill, and stretch small hole mesh, though depending on the fabric, you may be limited to choosing from certain colors.

Frilly Fillies - a fully customized fly bonnet that is handmade in the U.S.A.? Must. Learn. More. - Photo by Lorraine Peachey

Frilly Fillies – a fully customized fly bonnet that is handmade in the U.S.A.? Must. Learn. More. – Photo by Lorraine Peachey

As I went to use the bonnet on my horses, I found that since it was crafted based on the measurements that I provided, the fit was just right, giving it a really clean and elegant (there’s that word yet again) appearance. And in my case, the bonnet fits two out of my three horses extremely well (as for the third, well, it’s not Mark’s fault that he has really REALLY long ears!).

I’ve found that Ripley and Roo both look fantastic, and I am able to switch the Frilly Fillies bonnet back and forth between either of them. The bonnet fits both of them really well, and through all of the use, it has held up just beautifully, and it does not appear to be showing any wear. And in between uses, I can simply fold the bonnet up, and place it back in the Frilly Fillies box that it arrived in for easy storage.

And to care for your bonnet, just remember to hand wash with care in cold water, using a mild detergent (I prefer to use Ivory detergent, as it seems to be super gentle). After washing, just lay the bonnet flat, and arrange it in it’s normal shape. Don’t bleach. Don’t dry clean. And don’t tumble dry. If you must iron, make sure to avoid embellishments or metallic yarns.

You can build your own Frilly Fillies bonnet by visiting their website here – bonnets prices start at $85.00, and the price can vary, based on the options and embellishments that you select.

Go Customized Bonnets that FIT.  Go Frilly Fillies.  Go Eventing.

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