Christmas shopping list for riding holiday enthusiasts
It’s that time of year again… With Christmas just around the corner, we should be busy helping you find your perfect holiday in the sun, and plan next year’s riding adventures. This year, however, is a little different. So, for those of you unfortunately not able to travel at the time, Iris from the Equus team has prepared a Christmas shopping wish list – some lovely things you can treat yourself to in anticipation of your next riding holiday! So what will it be? A new pair of riding tights? A safari hat and pin? Or a new lovely pair of boots? (because as everyone knows, there’s no such thing as “too many boots”…)
NB: this list mostly contains direct links (non affiliated) to UK and Irish-based retailers with online shops. For our US-based readers, most of these items can also be found online and on Amazon, for instance, but don’t forget to support your local business this Christmas!
Keeping safe on your horseback holiday
A light, ventilated riding helmet is key – I have the Uvex Exxential that I bought from the Colne Saddlery tradestand at Badminton last year. It’s a lightweight option with good ventilation – a good choice for riding holidays in warmer countries. Unfortunately it’s not currently stocked on Colne Saddlery’s website but I did find it over at Tally Ho Farm.
For those who are planning on a ranch holiday next year, you may be tempted to swap your helmet for a western hat. Did you know that you didn’t have to sacrifice safety for style? Resistol do really cool western hats with a hard inside shell – they don’t seem to sell through any European retailers but you can order on their website.
Breeches - a riding holiday essential
Can you ever have too many breeches? There are many manufacturers these days that can make durable jodhs and riding tights.
British brand Flexars have lovely riding leggings made from non-slip material – and I love the small phone pocket. Very handy! They are also extremely versatile and can double up as yoga pants or running leggings, and are great for long plane journeys: https://www.flexars.com/
If you’re planning a riding holiday in a country where the weather can be… unpredictable (Ireland, I’m looking at you!), a good idea would be to treat yourself to a pair of waterproof breeches. A good option is the PC racewear water resistant breeches (also, they’re unisex!) that you can get from Glaze and Gordon. There's also the Drytex by Lemieux, stocked by Dash Equestrian in the UK and O’Brien’s Saddlery in Ireland.
On the subject of waterproof gear, have you heard of riding skirts? I have to admit I was very curious about it. I had a little chat with Odette, the lady behind the Nouvelle Habit brand (https://www.nouvellehabit.co.uk/– waterproof riding skirts), so she could tell me a little more about it - I was worried they would flap around a bit. I have not tried them but they look really comfortable and rather stylish! Odette says: “In high winds they will move about a little, but generally they stay put. My design has little led weights in the reflective piping all along the bottom edge of the skirt and also has leg straps. If you are galloping the front edge will fold back but you can just tuck it under the front of the saddle and then you are good to go. The great thing with the waxed cotton is that it doesn't make much sound, unlike most waterproof materials. I am a rider myself so spent nearly 4 years developing and testing them!”
Riding boots for your equestrian adventures
There is honestly nothing like a good pair of boots – uncomfortable boots can be a bit of a nightmare, especially if you’re on a trail ride in the wild with no back-up pair. I would always recommend you break them in at home first, and make sure you are comfortable riding in them before you leave for your riding holiday (and this applies to any other piece of equipment!)
Here at Equus, Jo and I do have a soft spot for Ariat boots, and a staple in my equestrian wardrobe is the Grasmere boots. I have the Pro GTX version that are Goretex lined, and honestly so comfortable. To be fair, when it comes to schoolwork or trail riding (especially if I’m riding a narrow horse), I normally prefer the short boots/half chaps combo that offer me better contact. However, I lived in my Grasmere during my US ranch tour in 2019. They were just perfect for western riding and for when we worked cattle on foot. I think Ariat no longer manufactures the GTX version, but the regular Grasmeres can be found at Ingatestone saddlery in the UK and TRI equestrian in Ireland.
The Ariat H2O short boots are really good paired with half-chaps. They are durable and comfortable, both in the saddle and on the ground. This is great for slippery or rocky sections of the trail where you need to dismount and lead your horse on foot. Bonus points for being waterproof. You can get them from Hope Valley Saddlery. In Ireland they can be found at the Equine Warehouse.
Fits like a glove
If you’ve ever ridden with cold, wet hands or, on the other hand (pun intended!), sunburned hands, you’ll know how important a good pair of gloves really is. A good pair of summer gloves, or gloves that can be used to ride in warm countries, should be lightweight but durable and breathable. You can look up the SuperXCountry store for their Sportsline riding gloves that tick all the boxes, and are reasonably priced. SuperXcountry also have lovely winter riding gloves that come with an added bonus – touchscreen fingertips. Perfect to whip out your phone and take photos of videos of your riding adventure, without having to take off your gloves.
In Ireland, you can look up Saddles and Styles for LeMieux DryTouch waterproof gloves.
Keeping your stuff handy
I’ll have to come clean… I ride with a very old, very unfashionable bumbag that is the perfect size to hold my phone and chapstick. But for those who aren’t sorted yet, you can check Eqco’s riding phone and key bags. The lining is waterproof which is also a big plus in case you get caught in the rain. Also good if you are splashing around in the sea or in the Okavango Delta! (however, the stitches and bindings aren’t waterproof, so don’t try to go full submarine!).
The right underwear for your riding holiday
Ah, yes. Let’s talk about it. Unless you’ve got a rhino bum (which I’m not saying I do…), it’s possible that a week of riding will take its toll on your lovely bottom. And that’s when technical riding underwear come in undie… hm, handy. Although decent cycling underwear can do just fine, you can’t go wrong with Derriere Equestrian’s padded underwear. I spoke with Laura from the team who told me a little more about the technology behind their padded underwear:
"Derriere Equestrian offer the ultimate riding underwear. The Derriere Equestrian Padded Support System (DEPSS), which features in our padded underwear, has been scientifically developed and researched in both the UK and Italy and undergone thorough testing. The fabrics used are OEKO-TEX certified and our DEPSS fabric is the only brand in the world to be certified to ISO 9001. Derriere Equestrian undergarments are designed to eradicate seamlines visible through breeches and ensure no rubbing, chaffing or abrasions are created due to stitched seams, maximising comfort in the saddle, even on the longest of rides. The DEPSS protects the perineal area from friction and the resultant discomfort to the rider. We don’t call ourselves ‘The Equestrian Underwear Experts’ for no reason!”
They have female and male versions too – take a look for yourself: https://www.derriereequestrian.com/. I know that getting sporty underwear for Christmas wasn’t probably what you had in mind, but you’ll thank me later!
Other outdoorsy items
There are so many other country/outdoor clothing that you can also use on a riding holiday. If you’ve opted for a camping ride, then one way to keep your ears toasty and warm is to pack a warm headband – you can get lovely ones at the Tweed Boutique – I’m very partial to the Greenfinch classic headband myself . And because it’s so lovely, you can wear it at home too.
If you’re like me, "plagued" with fair skin and tend to burn easily in the sun, but don’t want to give up on your trail ride in the Sahara or your dream African riding safari, then a brilliant gift from yourself to yourself is an anti-UV shirt. The IceFil by Kerrits offers sun protection up to UPF+30 and the fabric is designed to wick moisture. In the UK you can get it from Glaze and Gordon, for instance. Ariat’s Women's Tri Factor UV IceFil offers protection up to UPF+50 for those with especially sensitive skin and keeps you cool even in hot weather. Available from Hope Valley Saddlery.
For those going on a horseback safari (and even for those who aren’t!), a safari hat can be lovely – a Mackenzie and George’s fedora is a worthy addition to your wardrobe and look equally lovely at your local Horse Trials and on safari! They also have beautiful brooches – for those in Scotland, you can also look at Wendy Goode’s website for a local option.
Last but least, a headcam or phone stabilizer can also be an amazing present. I love looking back on my trips, and watching old videos is a wonderful way to remember previous trips. I ride with the GoPro Hero 5 (which is waterproof), but there is a large selection of other brands available to you nowadays.
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