The Dressage Dossier

The discerning Diva's guide to the Dressage world

Category: Fashion, Equipment & Reviews

Review – Horze ProBell Bell Boots

Divas – If you’re anything like me, there are few sights more satisfying than a impeccably turned out dressage horse, and no turnout is complete without the dressage signature – An impeccable snow white wrap/bell boot combo that looks like it could protect a horse from Valegro level over-reaching.

Charlotte knows what I’m talking about!

Everyone has their preference when it comes to bell boots – be it patent, sheepskin topped, traditional rubber, or one of the thousands of variations of neoprene.  Personally, the more patent/rhinestone/fluffy sheepskin the better, but most importantly, I want my bell boots to have two things – great hoof coverage, and the blinding white color of freshly driven snow.  Bonus points if they have “stage presence” – which to me means they are obnoxiously big and exaggerate the horse’s movement with their blinding fluffy whiteness.

For me, I’ve grown used to having to levels of bell boots – which means I’ve resigned myself to having several schooling pairs in various abused shades of yellowed white or dust-in-the-cracks black to wear at home, and then one or two fun patent/crystal/glitter pairs that only get brought out at shows.  Unfortunately as we all know, horses touch the ground – kind of a lot.  One early morning show warm up in a freshly watered arena and there go my “show” bell boots – never to be spotless again, no matter how many times I sneak them into the washing machine at my house in between loads of human laundry.  As much as I love my pile of glittery silver and metallic grey bell boots – bright white is a staple that every rider should have in their equine wardrobe.

(Un)Fortunately Isley loves bell boots almost as much as loves peppermints – so I’m always happy to have a new pair to throw on the “home” pile, however I was never really able to justify the cost of buying new boots for each big event we would go to – until I found the very VERY reasonably priced Horze ProBell bell boots.

Already dropped them *sigh*

Why is Isley standing like that?

Purchasing & Fit – I was looking for a clean white boot that was very protective for schooling at home when I purchased these boots sight unseen online.  They set me back a cool $14.99 directly from Horze.com (FINALLY a price I was willing to pay for a boot that I know will last my oversized piranha two months max), and I ordered them in a size XL.  Isley probably could have taken a LG but I really like my bell boots to be long and a little bit oversized as long as they fit snug in the top of the boot which these did.

Good fit, good coverage

Quality –  When they arrived I was pleasantly surprised!  Now don’t get me wrong, they are very basic, but they are generously sized, thick neoprene with a great length that covers the whole hoof, and while they are unfinished on the edges, the material seems soft and rub-free.  The Velcro seems reasonable sturdy and secure, and while the cloth type finish of the neoprene makes me think they will attract dust like a magnet and hold onto it – they also might wash up well, and are at a price point where I could honestly justify buying a clean set for every show this year while spending about as much as I’d spend on two pairs of fancy bell boots.

Alternate view

My biggest criticism would be that I’d love if the branding was all done in shades of white for a nice clean look – but beggars can’t be choosers and for $14.99, I’ll take what I can get!

They come in a royal blue (fun option for a championship honor round!), black, and white – so please excuse me while I go buy 5 more pairs!

 

 

 

Review – HandsOn Grooming Gloves

When it comes to grooming, I’m a pretty simple gal.  I love a good selection of nice

New HandsOn Glove

brushes and a great hoof pick, but when it comes to curry combs I keep it pretty basic.  I’ve always felt like there are so many gimmicky horse “massagers”, gel curries, roller curries, etc. – but nothing truly gets the job done but a good old fashioned hard rubber curry – or a stiff boar bristle brush.  In recent years I’ve strayed from rubber curries to the cheap and very useful “Magic brush” (essentially a lightweight plastic brush made of flexible plastic bristles), and while the Magic brush is great for breaking up crust and stimulating the coat, it is rigid in design and somewhat limiting on what areas it can tackle – especially on a thinner skinned horse.

I recently decided to try the “HandsOn Grooming Glove” (handsongloves.com) and to be honest I wasn’t expecting to like it as to me it seemed like another grooming “accessory” who’s only real purpose was going to be getting dusty in the bottom of my groom kit, but I had seen a friend of mine who grooms at Rolex with one tucked into her back pocket, so I figured I’d give it a go.  I was right that I don’t like it – I truly love it.

Palm Side

Purchasing & Fit –  The grooming gloves can be obtained directly from the manufacturer, HandsOn Gloves, and comes in sizes Junior, SM, M, L, & XL.  I checked out the size chart and opted for a M, and while the fingers were a little bit short it was overall a good fit.  I have pretty long fingers and usually wear about an 8 in ladies riding gloves.  The gloves come in two different colors, black and green, and can be used wet or dry.

Quality – The gloves seem very durable and well made, the velcro strap is secure on my wrist when fastened, and it doesn’t feel like my fingers are at risk of poking through the fabric when I’m using them.  They are coated and clearly would be also to handle a lead rope, hose, or dog leash without being slippery, and I appreciate that I wouldn’t have to take them on and off while bathing a horse or grooming if I had to quickly grab something else.

Performance & Experience – Here is where I was really impressed with the gloves.  I used them on an unusually chilly summer day to groom Isley after his ride.  I had groomed him without the gloves before the ride and thought he was pretty clean, but because of the chill I didn’t want to hose him after.  First of all, from the very first touch he clearly LOVED what I was doing.  Isley typically rubs himself all over his stall walls to scratch himself after every ride, so I knew the scratchy factor would be a big plus for him – and I was right!  After the initial hilarious itchy faces, he really relaxed and closed his eyes as I groomed him.  He has a thin summer coat, but the amount of hair I got out of his coat with minimal pressure was pretty incredible, all while keeping my hands clean.

Just a few strokes worth of hair shed.

Working on him with the gloves was rewarding and relaxing for me as well – I clearly was having a positive effect on my four legged partner, the benefits of bringing the oils out of his coat, and the chilled out bonding time that we were having was making me feel just as happy and relaxed as he was clearly feeling.  It was easy to access the spots that I usually have to fight to clean around his ears, and the gloves made it possible for me to contour around legs or use just one or two gentle fingers around his eyes.  It also showed me truly how much I was barely scratching the surface (pun totally intended) with my other grooming tools – even after the full grooming before his ride I got an incredible amount of crud and hair out of his coat with my HandsOn gloves.

Wow! What a dustball!

I haven’t used the gloves to bathe Isley yet, but I’m sure I will be singing the same praises all over again when he has the most effective and relaxing bath I’ve ever given him!  I am absolutely getting rid of my other curry combs and will be putting the HandsOn gloves at the center of my new grooming regimen.  Can’t wait to see Isley’s coat bloom as a result – no supplements necessary!

 

 

 

 

 

Review – Imperial Riding Hologram “Unicorn” Tendon Boots

Isley pulling focus from the product like a DIVA

Because I am a shiny hoarder, if I see something horse related online that is a new breed of shiny I lose all will power and order it immediately (and often in multiples so I can put it in a pile and sit atop it like a weird glitter-tack dragon) .  Its a fact of life that I have accepted (there are worse vices to have, right? RIGHT?!) and will not be seeing a counselor about this particular quirk of mine, thank you very much.

Unfortunately for me in the USA – Europe is the motherland of fun and shiny tack, so trying on is usually impossible, and shipping is often very expensive (so honestly it makes sense to buy these things in bulk – let me here all those enablers out there say “YES it makes SENSE!!”).  Fortunately you have me, your friendly online dressage goods hoarder to do the dirty work for you and give you the details on if these things are worth the price of shipping.

Purchasing – I ordered these boots from matchydressage.com – they come in sizes pony, cob, and horse.  I ordered horse for fronts and hinds because Isley is 17hh and leggy, even though he is fairly slender.  For reference, he wears M DSB boots in front (can wear large) and L DSB boots behind.  I received my boots in a timely manner considering they were coming from the UK, although they mistakenly sent me one set Cob, one set Full.  Matchy Dressage has excellent customer service and sent me my other full set very quickly with no fuss.

Fit – I would not recommend these boots for horses with larger legs!  The cob size fit Isley width wise ok (not ideally), but were clearly too short. I would say they would be perfect on a 15-16hh ish horses with light, normal, and medium bone.  They might be fine on a stockier horse but I like my boots with lots of overlap, and on these boots the hologram is so cool that it was important to me to not see any velcro.  The horse size boots could be a littler taller behind, but they fit just fine.

Quality – I have not used them a ton (I’ve been saving them for special occasions like horse roller derby night or pony disco parties ever since my trainer Nina strongly suggested I not wear them to clinics and shows) – but they seem to be excellent in design and quality.  They are very thick and have a stiff protective layer inside that I really, really, like.  Where they are covering on the leg would be well protected in case of impact or overreach.  They also seem like they would be difficult to remove if a naughty baby horse named Isley were to try and free himself from the confines of horsewear and run naked in the turnout like he always tries to do.  I doubt they would be hard to clean as they seem to be vinyl, however I would worry that they might scuff with regular use and mess with the super shine they have going on currently.

All things considered these boots are SO fun and unique, and I really like this style of protective boot for dressage.  Because of the fit limitations I can’t say they are perfect, but come on – HOLOGRAMS!

Isley is very unenthused about modeling

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