Many months ago (probably in the spring, I suck at keeping track of these things), we got a mysterious box at the farm in a set of our many deliveries. This is a pretty normal thing for us as we never have time to shop and even if we did we hate it so a rando box showing up is normally something we ordered so we "wouldn't forget to order it" and it all works out fine. Except this time... it wasn't even something I'd heard of nor seen. Sarah had no idea (not that she does any of our actual ordering, just tells me to do it). There was a note inside that basically said it was complimentary and to enjoy.
So this was apparently my first unsolicited free item to try. I'm going to blame all our hashtagging of Equifuse on Instagram for this one. I didn't think that competing companies would be stalking hashtags of their competitors and then sending samples to the users but here we are. And yes, my head is hurting thinking about that marketing and social media and all the things but it's really brilliant. Especially when I'm getting samples woot. Santa Cruz didn't ask for a review just to enjoy and so that meant that it sat in my garage for many months until August when we decided why not...
So we got the nozzle thing that attached directly to the hose. Our water can have some pretty serious pressure and we replace hoses, hose connectors, trough floats, you name it pretty regularly when the pressure stays on. I didn't have high hopes that the plastic applicator was going to last. So first off, attaching it was pretty secure and we didn't have any leaking. There is an off and on dial for the soap but then we were groaning about having to remove it AFTER the horse was soaped up to THEN rinse them. Oh wait, the dial turns AGAIN and allows the water to bypass your foaming soap option. Basically like a coin operated car wash that I assume some people still use instead of getting a car wash membership to the bigger washes. You set the dial to "foam" or "rinse" or "off" essentially on this thing.
Since I'm in love with Equifuse as a Friesian owner, I was skeptical about how we'd (I'd) like this. Honestly, it smells great (a nice herbally clean smell), is easy to use, and really does a good job of cleaning the horses without having to scrub. It rinses easily as well and leaves the horses smelling fresh with a pretty clean coat. I'm pretty loyal to Equifuse but seeing as we now have 5 working students and my opinion on washing the horses doesn't count really since I rarely bathe them anymore, I checked with the students. They do like the UltraCruz shampoo but I normally have to remind them to use it when I want it used. We also have some Cowboy Magic and Microtek shampoo/conditioner/grooming as well so sometimes it varies on what the students grab and I feel only Sarah and I really have a preference when it comes to the shampoos in the bottle (Sarah likes Cowboy Magic, I like Equifuse although for shows we use the Equifuse hands down and maybe some Quicksilver on the white parts to help even more #blindingwhite).
Overall, I feel the UltraCruz Foaming Shampoo works better on our "easier to groom" horses like the stock horse and thoroughbred type coats vs the thick double coats of the Friesian and KWPN horse. It just seems to penetrate it better and therefore clean better/deeper. It rinses equally well out of either coat though. If you like to bathe your horse regularly, this is an excellent choice. I like to use it weekly+ on the horses just to knock the dust down and keep their coats fresh. The herbal smell doesn't last long like the Equifuse but then I'm not sure what does. Equifuse just has the market cornered on that smell and the lasting-ness. The container + applicator is a little awkward at first but not heavy enough to really cause hand soreness and the bathing goes pretty fast so that's not a real issue once you use it. This is not a shampoo/device that will make your mudball horse perfectly clean just by spraying it though so keep that in mind. It's not a magic cure people :)
Will I order more of it? Yes, I will. I do like the smell and the way it makes the coats on (especially) the stock horses feel. I think it's a great "dummy proof" way to put some quality shampoo on the horses and get the coat nice and clean without overdoing it no matter who is doing the hosing as well as being efficient. The applicator also helps reduce waste as we're still using it 3-5 times a week on average 2 months later. The only thing I might do is add an easy remove/attach adapter to it and the hose to make the swapping easier (for hydroing and other things we need just the hose for) but it's really not a big deal. As for how the adapter is holding up with our water pressure? It's done a great job and looks as good as it was on day one. +1 Santa Cruz!
I've been oogling these bridles for some time but since I'm pretty firmly in love with Flexible Fit, I hadn't been able to pull the trigger on trying one of these out. This all changed when I got in a new sales horse and his head is definitely an oversized fit so we couldn't recycle a bridle from the tack room. The prices on Flexible Fit have been increasing with their popularity and since I'm not sure of my plan for this big boy, I was wavering on what to get him. He's a chestnut too and I've been debating a brown dressage bridle for him. I found myself going back and forth between my standard Flexible Fit at about $250+ (+++ too) or trying one of these for about $225. I opted to give these a try since I reasoned I could just return it if it didn't work. Also, the horse was HERE already and I didn't want to wait the (albeit completely reasonable) shipping from Australia for Flexible Fit. I placed my order for a black and white Milano style bridle with 20x60 and waited. I chose the Milano because it had an integrated crown piece - I wasn't sure how I felt about NOT having one at this time. I also wanted to try something with rolled cheeks and we like the look of the patent leather on my other guys. The broadband on this bridle was a little less "tiara" as well for the intended Irish Sport Horse gelding, Patrick.
I don't recall the exact wait time, but it was FAST. 20x60 sent me information promptly about when the order was received, processed, shipped, etc. Upon arrival (maybe 3-5 days later), it was well packaged, had a complementary 20x60 tote in it, and a thank you note. Not bad! We tried it on the new horse (Premiera only goes to Full size so I was expected it to be rather large) and it looked sooo good on him.
The leather smell from the box wasn't the heavenly smell I'm used to with Flexible Fit and it wasn't as soft out of the box as I'm used to. Overall it felt strong and soft in the corresponding places though. For the price, I felt it was fair. Since the new red horse is still working in the round pen, we tacked him up and went in there. The bridle did the job fine (not as though it was having anything done to it aside from being on a horse :) ) and took it off. Didn't look any worse for the wear so we put it up. Later that evening, I decided to put Sarah on Feina for the first time since we've gotten Feina (she probably hadn't been ridden in over a year). Feina is about 17.1h so we pulled out the Premiera bridle again to see how it would work on her. She has a typical old school warmblood head and it definitely made her look very classy. We did a light 15 minute ride on her and then took the bridle off for the night.
Two days later, we pulled the bridle out for red horse in the round pen again and I noticed that the noseband was starting to "ripple" through the patent leather as we tacked him up. It's not terribly obvious when you are riding, doesn't affect it's performance, and honestly, if I hadn't had such stellar experienced with the FF bridles' patent I wouldn't have thought twice about it. It doesn't seem to affect the bridle and it doesn't look brittle, but it is definitely something we're going to keep our eyes on while we use it more.
We tried using one of our regular brow bands with these bridles and they were just too small for these huge horses (the bands are horse sized) so we used the curved bling that came with them. Honestly, they were lovely and fit the giants nicely while adding some refinement to their heads. I did like the rolled pieces of the bridle, but the buckles on the sides do tend to obscure them in this style. One of the stones was a bit more recessed into the leather channel so it made it look funky but it's only noticeable when you are looking at it for that.
With this information and the fun ride we had on Feina, I decided to get her her own bridle at this point. I opted to get another Premiera bridle, but chose the Imperia style this time for it's blingier brow band, full rolled leather, and to see how the lack of a crown piece would affect things. I thought this nose band was patent again, but it's not (I missed one detail :P ).
At some point between ordering from 20x60 and deciding to get Feina her own bridle, I saw THIS post by SprinklerBandit and realized I'd overpaid for the bridle. Normally I stalk EVERYTHING online to get the best price, but I was blinded by the "lower than I'd thought to pay" price and the fact that I could return the thing if I wanted to. This time I ordered from HypoStore to save the $100ish and assumed my punishment would be having to wait forever for it to come from Europe. The actual time from ordering to delivery was about 7 days so not really that bad. It was packaged well upon arrival, but of course without the nice tote and thank you note that I had gotten from 20x60.
***The biggest thing I'd say here about ordering from HypoStore vs 20x60 would be how worried you are about needing to do a return. I find these bridles (so far) are worth the $200ish that 20x60 charges and their customer service was rocking. I honestly would have been pleased with the 20x60 price and would have ordered Feina's from them if I didn't realize HypoStore had them for so much less (and wasn't curious about the difference in ordering here vs Europe). If you order from overseas, then you should know the drill on returning isn't going to be so easy but you'd save money. Basically, like many things, you're paying for the convenience of it being based in the USA when you go with 20x60. Plus really nice customer service***
Overly dramatic unwrapping of the Imperia bridle from HypoStore
Feina got to try this thing out last night and it looked super stunning on her. Even though the broadband doesn't look THAT much more bling, well... it is. The rolled sides did their best to make her head look more feminine and it was padded in all the right places. I thought the lack of a crown piece might cause some rawry mare moments, but nope. All was well. The buckles on the top of the bridle made for an ultra clean appearance on the sides of her face which is really nice when you're putting a bridle on a huge warmblood. So far, it's a win. I prefer to not use flashes, drops, etc cavessons with the horses so I don't like that my choices are flash or drop only in these bridles. Once I can come to grips with it (or if groom beats me to it), we'll trim off the tabs for the flash. The flash strap is nicely rolled though and really nice if you do use them.
In summary, I think these things are worth the price - no matter where you get them from. I can't comment on the durability obviously but they should do the job for an average person's needs. We don't swap our bridles from horse to horse so they are under a "normal" work load of 3-5 rides a week on the same horse. The style is outstanding for the modern dressage ring/rider and I think this a nice way to class up your schooling/show wardrobe without breaking the bank or compromising on style or quality. Just keep in mind that we bought the Full size for two 17+ hand large boned beasts and the full size fits great (not on the highest or loosest holes) so if you're on the fence with sizing, don't say I didn't warn you.
I originally bought these boots in January 2015 as part of a splurge to myself. I have always fit in Ariat boots really nicely and these were priced (at that time) at about $260 US. I wasn't super fond of the blue tops but wanted something "different" and these were in my price range at the time so I went for it.
Out of the box, they weren't exactly what I expected even with a lot of research (although at the time there was relatively little as they'd just come out). There are A LOT of holes in the uppers and the foot bed is a little different than the standard 4LS footbed in that it seems to be a little more narrow and the toes are a little... different? All in all, nothing major for me but it's worth noting if you're close in sizes with Ariat. The calves are also about 1/4" smaller. My calves are normally 16.5-17" so these just fit me nicely but it's a little of a struggle. The height I think is about average for most Ariat boots and looking back, I kind of wish I'd gotten the tall size but they work ok at the height they're at and for lower level dressage and eventing no one's going to be looking at that with these boots. Just FYI, I got the 10MW in these and I'm 5'9" with a size 10 foot.
Long term, well... I do like these a lot. Since I'm more in the realm of "stove pipe" legs at this point, I don't wear these for shows anymore (I have a pair of Ariat Cadence boots instead) so they live in my trailer most the time just waiting and as a back up for if my Cadence's blow a zipper or something at a show. I do like wearing these a lot of schooling; however, but I'm also worried about them wearing out from that and not having them as show backups or something too. I have issues lol. The fit on the V Sports is much more what I've consider "hunter" type with the contoured ankles and nice calf fit. This is very much a half chap/paddock boot fit but in a tall boot. I don't notice that the holes in the uppers really cool me off THAT much but it's a nice look to me. I was hoping for more of a sneaker feel in the foot bed but it's an odd hybrid of sneaker and tall boot, leaning more towards a tall boot size. I don't mind walking around in my paddock boots, flip flops, tall boots, etc so I'm probably not the best to say I love wearing these all day as I don't have major issues with this in anything I wear.
The "ankle contour" in these and the other Ariat boots that are cut with this are AMAZING. I've tried several on at the local Dover and they really did a great job of fitting in the ankle and then fitting the calf. I have a large calf so bootmakers seem to assume I have cankles and make the ankle part ridiculously huge for me. I've been suffering with this in off the rack boots for decades so it was a nice selling point for me. My Cadence don't have this and I miss it.
The current price of these in 2017 is $309 and I'd say they're still worth it at that price point. Mountain Horse, Treadstep and some other brands may have something that suits your taste and sizing better at this above $300 price point though so check it out unless you just have to have blue uppers and Ariats fit you normally. I tried the Treadsteps and Mountain Horse boots in 2015/2016 when I was shopping for my Cadence boots and well, they just don't fit my calf/ankle combo so I had to sadly end them back.
I've seen some comments online about how easy/hard these are to clean/condition with all the holes in the uppers. I've just used a creme cleaner and it's always worked out just fine. I don't have time to pick out each hole over and over again and the creme cleaner does a wonderful job of cleaning and then absorbing without me having to work over time with it. I believe my groom uses Lederbalsam since she's an addict.
I have worn these at recognized shows (my Cadence were NOT all the way broken in as I found out in my first test of the day with plenty of "lengthen leg" and "shorten stirrup" comments on that test as I couldn't bend my knee and was struggling to just keep stirrups with those beastly boots. My coach actually liked these a lot when I shamefully swapped to these for my next test and the blue is hardly noticeable from a distance.
What do I NOT like about these, well... they won't stay zipped up on my calves. It's probably that 1/4" too small, but while they zip up beautifully before I get on, inevitably they unzip themselves as I warm up and leave a HUGE gaping hole showing off my normally ridiculous socks under. I'm not a huge fan of this and have several pro pics of this :/ I'm sure someone more desperate than I could just put a key ring through the zipper and attach it through the leather keeper but I always manage to forget to do this and well, I have half chaps still for schooling and my Cadence for showing (and they don't do this).
In 2015 when I was heading to Iron Spring Farms to check out Jade, I figured I would look a little classier and get myself a new outfit. Honestly, I was WAY early to the airport in Austin for my flight and had extra time so I stopped in Dover to kill time. I really liked their Coolblast Short Sleeved Shirt and decided that I wanted to get some breeches to go with it. Being fairly conservative, I opted for some knee patch breeches and tried on a few styles. As a mother who still possesses her "baby pooch" that refuses to disappear, I was looking forward to seeing how these "support panels" worked.
I really liked them. They're supportive without being corset like. Definitely a much smoother look than standard breeches. The fabric is more of a standard fabric and can get a little warm in the hot Texas summers but it's not too bad in the knee patch style. The full seats are definitely hotter so if you're prone to swap crotch, probably not your best bet. But the best part about this fabric being a little thicker is that it hides cellulite nicely and creates a nice smooth outline. At the time I got the knee patch in light tan. They were nice and tidy for my trip north, fit in nicely with the PA horse country, and I didn't feel out of place while I strolled around Windurra watching/stalking Boyd.
After I returned, I decided I needed some more breeches and since the full seat version was only a few dollars more (and I had a fancy Friesian now with LOTS of suspension), it made sense to me to get some full seats. I ended up ordering from Victory Canter because of their always 10% off codes and to try a new to me online company. The shipping wasn't the speediest, but it wasn't as pricey as Dover so I found it a fair trade off. I ended up with 2 pairs of the white breeches, 1 pair of the grey, and 1 pair of the brown that I started using regularly through 2015 and into early 2016.
I really like the generous but flattering pockets on these breeches and the touches of faux suede and embroidery on the back belt loop make it a little fancy without being in your face crazy. The fit is average and I don't experience much gapping in the back waistband as I normally can (large butt, significantly smaller waist) and while I could get by without wearing a belt, I do wear one as I do a ton of farm chores in these and when you get sweaty, things are going to start moving around. The fabric (as mentioned above) is fairly rugged and I haven't experienced any wear of the fabric but the suede (ish) seat is piling some from my increase in sitting trot work.
These wash up nicely though and I wear them for everything. My white breeches are worn only for shows and they immediately got black stains on them from my saddle that haven't been able to wash out 100% but it's not that noticeable when I'm riding. Just a small irritant, but for under $100 I'm not going to complain.
All in all, these are some of my favorite lower level full seat dressage breeches as well as all around schooling breeches in the knee patch variety. I recommend them if you want something nice(r) to schooling in, professional looking, helps keep your body flaws in the proper places, and is comfortable for all day wear.