Friends and clients had been telling me for years about the virtues of custom riding boots. I always just thought that a boot is a boot, right? After having a need for a particular boot that was not offered in my size off the shelf ordering custom was my last remaining option. I was concerned about a number of aspects surrounding custom boots. Beyond just the difference in price between a stock boot and custom I was also worried about if they would really fit. Now that I have received my custom boots I would like to tell my story in an effort to put some of your apprehension at ease. Continue reading For the love of custom tall boots.
Redefining the Riding Accident
In nearly 25 years of riding and numerous unplanned dismounts; I can cite only 4 incidents in which I was actually hurt beyond just shaking it off and moving on. Up until just last year I never understood that there really can just be a riding “accident”. I had always just thought a fall was a fall, regardless of what the ultimate cause was. My two most recent experiences redefined the term “riding accident” for me. I now refer to a riding accident as one of which neither you, nor your horse has any control over the ultimate outcome. The lack of control fundamentally changed the way I feel about riding. It is not just the rather rude introduction to fear on a level that I am not particularly familiar with, but also one of enlightenment in better understanding that a riding accident really can happen at any time for any reason.
A learning experience
In both occasions two well trained and obedient horses, which had been in regular work suddenly wiped out while working at the canter. Last year’s fall was with my then 6 year old horse. I never had falling while competing in the dressage phase on my radar. My anxiety always surrounded the possibility of a fall out on cross country. It was a great example for rule book roulette. It turns out that in USEA eventing dressage you can choose to continue if your horse falls (EV136.1.d). The fall was dramatic but it was on grass and I did not take a direct hit to my head. I was scared more so than hurt and worried more that my horse may have suffered any injury than myself. In the next few rides I felt anxiety to canter on a 20 meter circle and was hyper aware that my horse just did not seem quite right. He underwent a full lameness evaluation with the veterinarian and we came up with a plan based on his individual needs which included corrective shoeing, a change in primary discipline and additional therapies to help him gain strength in areas where he was lacking.
A bad fall
I have never had anxiety on hunting mornings, the way that I had experienced anxiety running cross country. Just three weeks ago I suffered another fall at the canter. I had been learning some of the ins and outs of Whipping-in for foxhunting and wanted to train my aged mare as a backup should my primary horse be unable to hunt. The hounds hit a line and we were cantering down a trail keeping an ideal position along with them. The trail was hard packed dry dirt. There was a very gentle curve but I did not notice any roots, rocks or other obstructions that would raise any sort of concern. My horse was balanced and comfortable when out of nowhere Continue reading The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Riding Accident
Foxhunting apparel trunk show!
I’ve got some exciting news from the Fledgling Foxhunter for our local (and not so local) foxhunters! Our purchasing department
has graciously given in to my incessant pleading to add a selection of foxhunting apparel and tack. On a recent visit with members of the Chagrin Valley Hunt, I brought along a small selection of my favorite additions for a literal trunk show during Continue reading Foxhunting Apparel Trunk Show
Always Have the Perfect Clothing!
Here in Northeast Ohio our weather can be unpredictable. Some years it seems we have a bitter cold deep freeze in the months of January and February. And other years (much like this year) we have had snow and cold one day and warmth and melting snow the next – which we all know means muddy pastures! This weather makes it hard to know the best clothing to keep you warm in the barn during winter months. I have a hard time investing in an ultra warm coat and heavy coveralls when the weather is so unpredictable.
The best answer I have found in a changing climate is layering clothing. The thing I like most about layering up is you can get the most use out of your barn clothing investment by being able to use it in many seasons not just winter. Here at Big Dee’s we have a company filled with animal lovers who are outside taking care of the horses and other pets 365 days a year, so I have been able to get a lot of great advice on everyone’s favorites not just mine.
Base Layer Options
The base layer is always one of the most important parts of staying warm. It’s a light weight way to keep your body heat in and have a soft comfortable fabric against your skin. One of the first things I hear when everyone talks about their favorite base layer would be Back On Track. The reason it’s so popular as a base layer is because it’s a soft thin fabric which makes it easy to wear under other clothing. The material Back on Track is made of is also moisture wicking and the ceramic in the product reflects your own body heat creating warmth (and as a side benefit it helps to reduce pain and inflammation). Back on Track offers T-Shirts, long underwear, leggings, thin gloves (great as glove liners) socks, neck covers, and even boxer shorts – all make great warm first layer option.
Other options to help keep you warm are to layer with pull on riding tights and sun shirts. Sun Shirts and riding tights are a great way to keep cool in the summer but they also make a great base layer in the winter. One of my favorite sun shirts is by Kastel Denmark. It’s a soft light weight fabric that breathes and gives a great range of options for UPF protection in the summer and warmth in the winter. Ariat and Arista both make a beautiful Merino Wool quarter zips that will keep you so warm! Kerrits and several other brands make great quarter zips that are lined with fleece for extra warmth.
Utilize Any Season Clothing
So now that you have a lot of base layer options we can move on to what to wear over it. For bottoms it really depends on what you are doing. Are you riding, working in the barn or both? For the top layer, consider the temperature and all of the great outerwear layers that are made for winter. If you are riding English you may want to choose a pair of warm Irideon Windpro three season breeches. You could also try a Soft Shell riding Breech like the new style from Noble Outfitters. If you are doing barn work or riding western you may choose your favorite pair of jeans, chaps or coveralls.
Next up is your torso! Soft shell is a term we hear often and it might be one of the best outerwear materials ever invented! You can find soft shell in pullovers as well as zip style jackets. The great thing about soft shell is that the fabric has fleece on the inside. The exterior is smooth, with water and dirt resistance from the elements. It is super warm while being light weight and flexible. This style jacket paired with a vest makes a great outerwear layer, especially when riding. If you start to get a little warm peel off that vest and keep on going! You can always put it back on when you start to cool down. If you’re not a fan of vests there are great jacket options that are also light weight and flexible.
Keep Your Feet Warm & Dry
Now that we have covered the core portion of keeping the body warm let’s talk about those parts that get cold first! For me it’s always feet, ears, and hand. I have found the best way to keep your feet warm is to start with a good pair of socks and end with a great pair of boots. One of my all time favorite socks is made by Noble Outfitters. They are comfortable, well padded and they make great options for winter. You have the option of thermo thin or merino wool.
Moving on to boots, if you are working in the barn I highly recommend the Noble Outfitters Cold Front Muds Boots – they are warm and comfortable. A great option for people who ride in the winter are Mountain Horse Active Rider Tall Boot. They are warm and have a stirrup friendly sole. If you prefer a paddock boot, I really like the Ariat Extreme H2O Insulated paddock boot. It gives the look of a traditional paddock boot while staying functional for winter. Another great option that seems to be a little secret in the Standardbred Racing crowd are the Double H Insulated leather boots.
Don’t Forget Head & Hand Protection
A good ear band goes a long way to keep your ears warm in the winter. I have heard many people who wear a helmet say they don’t like an ear bands. While many are made slim and go nicely under helmets, if you are not a fan my answer to you is Sprigs Earbags! The Earbags are two layers of fleece with Thinsulate lining and no band to interfere with your helmet. You just pop them over your ears and go. If you want to listen to your music while working in the barn, try out Sprigs Soundears!
Let’s not forget about the endless possibilities for gloves! My all time favorite pair of gloves are the Polartec Warwick Winter Riding Gloves by Roeckl. They are soft, comfortable and flexible – you will want a pair for the barn and a pair for everyday use! If you have a need for a tougher glove with a rugged exterior try the SSG Ten Below. Many enthusiasts at Big Dee’s use and recommend this glove. The SSG Ten Below is really warm due to the Thinsulate lining. It also has a great grippy palm, but the most impressive feature is that it’s waterproof. I don’t mean if you are in a rainstorm your hands won’t get wet waterproof, I mean you can submerge your hand in a water bucket to right below the cuff and not feel a drip of water!
Finally if you love to use those handy hand and toe warmers for a little boost of warmth, the Heritage Extreme Winter Gloves are for you. There is a pocket on the top of the glove where you can place the hand warmer and zip it up. This positioning keeps it comfortable and on top of the artery that brings warm blood flow to your hands.
Hopefully these tips and insights into winter clothing can help you choose the best products for you!
The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots – Fitting and Selection
With Big Dee’s Custom Boot Event kicking into full swing this week, I thought it would be a great time to give your the scoop on custom tall riding boots and my recent ordering experience!
Why are Tall Boots Important?
Regardless of your riding interests and style, everyone has that perfect picture in their mind of how we would love to look and feel in the saddle. I envision myself in a classic ensemble that includes a tweed hacking jacket, rich brown boots and a smart brown helmet. Beyond the obvious fashion aspect there is more to a good quality boot. For me, my boots and helmet are the only two things that I really must have in order to feel safe and confident while riding a horse. Tall boots are a key transmitter in the language between you and your horse through your leg aids. Undoubtedly the comfort and fit of your tall riding boots can make or break your ride all together. Whether they are too tall, too tight, too small in the foot, too sloppy in the leg, or perhaps just too old, battered and broken; we’ve all been there, that moment when you decide enough is enough and you’ve got to find something better.
Why choose custom?
Last spring my schooling boots failed beyond repair, and I started wearing my Tredstep Field Boots. They are beautiful, fit me like a glove and had previously been reserved for use only while showing and foxhunting. In an effort to ensure their continuing good looks I knew I should get another pair of tall boots to take up the brunt of my daily wear. Despite being able to shop through an extensive offering of top name brand tall boots in both brown and black, finding an off-the shelf Continue reading The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots
It’s fall, and we are falling in love with this seasons equestrian style! A look that will take you from the barn to a night out with your fellow barn girls! This outfit screams sophistication. Stepping out into the store you won’t be getting the usual, “what is she wearing?” glances, rather a “where can I get those boots?” or “I need that jacket!”. The style of this outfit will surely get you noticed on and off your horse! Let’s get into the pieces making up this ensemble.
Ariat Markham Quilted Ladies Jacket features an attractive quilting for a stylish yet functional appeal both in and out of the saddle. Wind and water resistant. Lightweight polyfill insulation. $119.95
Irideon Cooldown Icefil long sleeve ladies show shirt offers great performace features in a shirt designed to keep you cool, comfortable and looking great in the saddle. Moisture wicking. Lightweight mesh underarm. Exclusive equestrian patterns inside the cuffs and collar. $89.95
Ariat Waverly Ladies Country Boot offers true equestrian style in a chic and elegant boot which elastic side panels for easy fit. This classic boot is ideal with skirts and skinny jeans for a flattering country appearance. $279.95
Kerrits Cargo Kneepatch Ladies Breech offer classic style in a durable cutting edge fabric that is designed to withstand the elements while keeping you cozy and comfortable. Polartec Windpro exterior shell, brushed fleece interior. Wind and water resistant. Gripstretch suede kneepatch. $106.95
The Uvex Suxxeed Active Helmet meets the most stringent international safety requirements for personal protective equipment. The Uvex brand provides the ultimate in safety, function, fit and style. This model provides a traditional but unique look with a high-tech interior that works well for the show ring. $349.00
Fall Has Truly Arrived!
Before the temperature even started to drop, fall began arriving here at Big Dee’s! In our store we have been busy changing over displays and decor to match the fall season. Gone are the tank tops and bright colors of spring, they have been replaced by warm winter coats, cozy pullovers, and fashionable vests in a warm rich color pallet.
Have you ever wondered the process that brings all the fun fall styles into Big Dee’s? Well here is a firsthand account written by one of our buyers (Christie Ferrara) that will give you some insight into the process from the very beginning stages:
Most people don’t realize it, but while you’re thinking spring, we in the purchasing world have bypassed the tulips and blazing heat of summer and moved right into the blistering cold of Winter. If you have ever thought “Wow, I’d love to purchase at a place like Big Dee’s“, it may not be as easy as you think. First, you need to bypass your horse loving mentality and move into a practical mode. Let’s face it, when you own horses (like most of us do) you could literally drown in the sea of possibilities to clothe yourself and your horse and have lots of fun doing it. Going to trade shows and seeing the latest and greatest riding gear, clothes and boots is a shopper’s paradise! So let’s rein it in and talk about the great things we get to see and decide to purchase for our customers.
A trade show is one great place to see all of the latest innovations in riding gear, the latest trending colors and styles of clothing and footwear for a variety of disciplines. Vendors set up huge booths and talk to you one on one about what is so great about each of the products they carry. Now you as the buyer must first, think about this: they are in the business to sell “their” product, so what is it that YOU like about the product? Secondly, ask yourself these questions: Have your customers asked for something like this? Have you tried a product like this before? Would YOU use this product? What is trending in your industry? What are the “hot” colors? What are some of the features to you like? What is your customer willing to pay for this? Make some mental notes, jot them down and snap a picture if you can because you’re going to need them!
After a long day of viewing fabulous items the time for buyer collaboration begins. You must now dig out your notes, and catalogs and head to the round table. Luckily for us, we have a few different perspectives, owners, riders in a variety of disciplines, and industry professionals, which allows us the ability to whittle down the variety of choices and think outside of the box. This is just a small glimpse of what we do purchasing here at Big Dee’s. Hopefully, our staff and customers are just as excited as we are about the products we choose. When we get to read great reviews on some of the exciting new apparel for this season, we know we’ve done something right!
Our store staff, (who are horse lovers just like you) are always excited to see the seasons new styles as they arrive.
Here are some of their favorite picks:
The first pick was from Cathy Brogan, here is what she picked, and why – “Love at first sight for me is the NEW Brendana Coat from Schockemohle Sports. It’s very trendy and versatile. Some of the features I really like are the two way zipper, the zipper in the back, and the detachable hood with a stand up collar. The weight of this coat is fabulous, it will keep the rain and wind out without all the extra bulk. You will look good on and off your horse if you choose this style like I did!”
Next up our store manager Tabi Day had this to say about Noble Outfitters Elements Cowl Neck Sweatshirt. “I absolutely love this sweatshirt, the fit is perfect for any shape. It’s drawstring at the top of neckline allows you to adjust the fit comfortably around your neck. It will keep the wind off your neck without the bulk of a scarf. It is also fitted around the wrist to keep your arms warm and stop a breeze from creeping in. I own this sweatshirt in both colors! If you try it on you will buy one in a new color every fall like I do.”
Emily’s Pick “The Pikeur Evita Vest is the perfect style for the barn! It’s warm, comfortable, and has zippered pockets to keep valuables in. The Faux fur detachable hood adds style and keeps your face shielded from the chilly winter wind.”
Danielle’s Favorite “I love the Ariat Sophia Fleece Jacket! it’s perfect for cool fall weather. The fleece is super soft and warm. There are lots of pockets to keep track of your belongings the chest pocket is especially useful. It comes in two color choices the black and teal as well as brown and pink. The black and teal is my first choice, check it out and see which one you like best.”
Terri’s Choice “Fall is here and with it comes cool weather. The Goode Rider Military Jacket is my favorite new coat. It features a warm lining throughout the body and lightly lined sleeves that really allow you to move. The removable hood, zippered sleeves and drawstring waistline all help make this jacket look like a custom fit when you wear it. There are lots of convenient pockets to keep your keys phone and other necessities in. Oh, and there is a flap that snaps at the back so you can wear this coat easily in the saddle.”
Lauren’s Choice “The Ariat Ideal Down Jacket has to be the perfect piece of outerwear! It’s warm, lightweight and best of all packable. This cute jacket folds up small in its own baggie to be taken anywhere. I would pack it up for cold horse show mornings, or cool evening rides at the barn, and if you’re like me pack it in your backpack for misty morning rides.”
Peyton gave us the guys perspective “The Ariat SoftShell Mens Jacket is a great choice for a cool windy day. It’s internal fleece lining keeps it insulated and comfortable for all day wear. The outside shell is very flexible and keeps me dry I use it mostly at school walking from one class to the next at KSU.”
Mariah’s favorite “I recently purchased the Ariat Conquest Quarter Zip, and I absolutely love it! It’s perfect for fall weather because it’s super warm but not too heavy. I have had so many compliments on it at the barn as well as other places. I am very pleased with my purchase and am looking for my next one in another color.”
Ashley K’s pick “I like the Noble Outfitters Canvas Girl Tough Vest. It is great for layering to keep you warm when it starts getting chilly all the way to when it’s cold. It is made of a tough material to stand up to daily barn chores. It has a fluffy collar and a very soft inner lining as well!”
Jen’s favorite “My choice for winter outerwear was Ariat Ideal Down Vest. This vest is packable and easy to take on the go. The vest is not too puffy or overwhelming. It fits perfectly and is the right weight. I chose this vest because it’s not too thick and actually flattered me.”
Ashley R’s pick “My choice was easy with the Kerrits Tailor Made Trench Coat. The mid length cut is flattering and the angled pockets make it easier to access them. Normally mid length cut would be more difficult to move around at times, but this coat has a gusset at the back which help prevent that problem. With it being wind and water resistant, it’s perfect for Fall; whether at the barn or out on a date. Fleece interior makes it cozy for those cooler nights and the zipper allows you to open the bottom or top of the jacket to cool down.”
2016 International Helmet Awareness Day is September 17! International Helmet Awareness Day was started in 2010 by Riders4Helmets to educate equestrians on the benefits of wearing properly fitteing, secured and certified helmets.
Did you know that there is an estimated 300,000 sports related traumatic brain injuries a year in the United States? The International Brain Injury Association states that “Brain Injury can cause many kinds of physical, cognitive, and behavioral/emotional impairments that may be either temporary or permanent. Impairments may range from subtle to severe. Brain injury may result in seizure disorders.”
Helmets will absorb impact to the head, provide cushioning to the skull and reduce jarring of the brain against the skull. It is important to remember that the rider should wear a helmet designed specifically for riding horses and that it has been properly fitted. An ill fitting helmet will not provide the needed protection.
Big Dee’s supports International Helmet Awareness Day! We will be offering 20% off on helmets from Ovation, One K, IRH, UVEX, KASK, GPA, Tipperary, Charles Owen and Troxel – Saturday, September 17th – sale prices will be valid both online www.bigdweb.com and at our store in Streetsboro, Ohio.
PLUS – Register for a chance to win a Troxel ES or One K Defender Helmet!Click here to enter!
Stats provided by Riders4Helmets
Fall is approaching quickly and this means that we get to see some new products come in to our hungry little hands. The Ariat Fuse athletic shoe has just arrived at Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply, and I simply could not wait to get my fingers on them. Were they everything the hype was leading them up to be? Let’s find out! Ariat made the Fuse athletic shoe to be the go-to when you take your boots off. The Fuse athletic shoe is not a riding shoe as it does not have a heel, but they can be worn in the barn or in everyday casual life. This athletic shoe is great to change into before and after our rides so we aren’t stuck in our riding boots. Now lets get to the nitty gritty details about the Ariat Fuse!
The first thing I noticed about the Fuse was the breathable mesh material they are constructed of. Using a mesh material means that your feet won’t feel like they are suffocating inside a tiny cage all day. Also, your foot can expand and contract without feeling constricted and allows natural temperature control as well. My feet tend to swell by the end of the day and I don’t like shoes that make my feet feel they don’t have any wiggle room. That is not going to be an issue with these puppies!
Another thing I noticed about the Fuse is how light they are! I don’t even think they are more than a few ounces… it feels like I am tip-toeing on clouds! They are so light and airy that you feel as though you are not wearing shoes. This athletic shoe features Ariat’s 4LR technology that provides a four layer footbed, lightweight shank, while cushioning and stabilizing the foot for comfort and performance. The footbed in the Fuse is also contoured and removable. If you have a high arch I would recommend switching out the footbed, as I feel this fits more of a flat foot. The Fuse footbed lends itself to keeping your tired dogs kickin’. They feel really comfortable on, and act as though you have little massaging hands encouraging your feet to keep going. If you can’t tell, I am in love with these athletic shoes!
Other features of this athletic shoe are the heel and tongue pull tabs. The tongue pull tab also moonlights as a lace security factor. The Fuse sports a rubber outsole and an EVA midsole keeping them durable and easy to clean. The Fuse athletic shoe is available as a round toed shoe in sizes 5.5-10, 11.
Lastly, I also like the color options available. There are four color choices ranging from Blue Leopard Mesh, Grey Snake Mesh, Pink Serape Mesh, and Purple Serape Mesh. The Fuse athletic shoe is a great cross-over shoe and Ariat has hit a home-run with them! I hope you can enjoy them as much as I plan to! Click here to view them on our website: Ariat Fuse Athletic Shoe