With many women and families in the equestrian community impacted by breast cancer, we at Dover Saddlery are proud to support Susan G. Komen® through sponsorship of the organization’s 14th Annual Vermont Ride for the Cure. The horseback ride will take place at the beloved GMHA showgrounds in South Woodstock, Vermont on October 9th. The event is being held in honor of the life and legacy of Ride founder, Lois Steele Whidden, who died of breast cancer in April 2023.
Registered horseback riders at GMHA will enjoy a scenic five- to nine-mile-long trail ride. Riders in other areas can participate in the event virtually by choosing to “Ride Where You Are” and can then also choose their own ride mileage. New this year, cyclists and non-horseback riders can also enjoy virtual participation!
Susan G. Komen leads the way worldwide in spreading awareness about breast cancer, raising funds for research and providing support and guidance for people fighting the disease. Komen’s events always celebrate breast cancer survivorship and honor those who have lost their battle with the disease.
Funds raised from the Ride for the Cure will support patients through Komen’s Patient Care Center and will help advance cutting-edge research, as well. Anyone impacted by breast cancer can call 1-877-GO-KOMEN to speak to a trained professional who can offer emotional support and patient navigation services. Additionally, qualifying individuals can receive financial assistance or be connected to resources in their communities. Together, we are fueling the best science, boldest community and biggest impact in the fight against breast cancer.
To register for Ride for the Cure at GMHA or your own location, or to donate to the cause, click here. Thank you for your consideration—your participation gets us closer to the cure.
Safety week is a perfect time to address customer confusion concerning the widely publicized and accepted five-year replacement guidelines for riding helmets. Quite a few customers have contacted us having noticed the manufacture date stamped on the interior label of their new helmets. They’ve been concerned that the date is an expiration date—and this is not the case.
The date and the series number stamped inside your helmet is required by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which has verified your helmet meets the current required standard. This information is attached to the helmet in case a product defect is discovered or the need for a recall arises.
The five-year replacement guideline for equestrian helmetsbegins at the time of purchase and depends on frequency of use. (Keep the sales receipt for any helmet you buy as a reference for the age of your helmet. You may also need it to participate in a crash helmet replacement claim.) This five-year guideline is not a gimmick retailers and manufacturers use to sell helmets; it exists for the benefit of riders.
With use, helmet safety materials degrade, and the ability of the materials designed to protect you decreases as well. Perspiration, heat, hair spray, insect spray, exposure to sunlight, travel conditions and improper storage all contribute to a slow degradation of a helmet. Every time you wear a helmet, its materials heat up and expand. Every time you take a helmet off and let it cool and dry, the materials contract. That’s why the five-year plan is a guideline only, and common sense on replacement time should always apply to your situation. You can help maximize the life of your helmet by storing it in a protective bag or carrier, out of direct sunlight and in a temperature-controlled environment.
As an added note, within any five-year period, newer, better technologies and production methods are usually developed to boost coverage, safety and comfort provided by equestrian helmets.
When to replace your helmet:
You have worn it for five years.
You ride in it once or more daily, every day, for a year or two.
Your helmet starts to feel too loose or too tight.
You change your hairstyle drastically if you tuck it into your helmet.
The helmet’s harness loosens during rides, or the clasp doesn’t secure properly.
You had a crash and hit your helmet.
You dropped the helmet on a hard surface.
The helmet was stored improperly, such as in frigid conditions (frozen barn aisle) or in the excessive heat (backseat of a vehicle).
Please use common sense when considering helmet replacement and err on the side of caution.
Shop our wide selection of riding helmets and helmet accessories here.
What is your favorite helmet brand to wear? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!
Whether we riders call it a quarter sheet, an exercise rug, a riding blanket or a competition sheet, we’re referring to a piece of horse clothing cut to cover a horse’s hindquarters. It’s an easy way to keep a horse comfortable and the large, crucial muscle mass of the quarters warm and dry when you’re riding in cold or inclement weather. Use of an exercise rug is especially helpful for horses that are clipped and always blanketed.
Most quarter sheets are made of insulating, moisture-wicking and breathable synthetic fleece fabric or traditional wool. Waterproof exercise rugs can be made of a lightweight material, such as nylon, suited to warm and wet riding days. They can also be made with a waterproof top and a fleece-lined bottom layer to offer warmth perfect for chilly, damp weather. Easy to remove from the saddle, these sheets fasten at the front with hook-and-loop and stay put in back with the help of a tail cord.
Depending on the horse’s physical condition, whether he or she is clipped, how strenuous the ride will be and the ambient temperature, an exercise rug can be worn by a horse during a warmup phase of a workout and replaced at the end to prevent hot muscles from getting chilled. Or, it can be worn throughout a ride, especially if the horse is working outside or walking on a trail.
A cutout design typically provides space for the rider’s seat and saddle and allows the sheet to be worn over or under the rider’s thighs. Contouring along the hemline is designed to permit direct contact between the rider’s lower legs and the horse’s barrel. For fun, exercise rugs come in a variety of colors and can be custom made.
Sizing Quarter Sheets Manufacturers vary in sizing for quarter sheets, but generally, all are offered in small, medium, large or extra-large, with standard blanket size ranges falling into these categories. You’ll need to refer to size chart recommendations to determine appropriate sizing for your desired quarter sheet.
When the rug is on your horse, you simply need to make sure it is roomy enough to allow your horse to move naturally without restriction. Conversely, it should not be so large and loose as to allow shifting or have excess dangling fabric that could become caught on an object.
Shop our entire selection of quarter sheets and exercise rugs here.
Do you and your horse have a favorite quarter sheet to ride in? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!
We can help you decide whether body clipping is a good choice for your horse, and if so, how much hair you want to remove. The decision comes down to how much your horse works in cold weather and your willingness to manage blanketing to compensate for loss of natural protection.
Thick coats and the additional grease produced in horses’ skin in winter combine to protect them against wet, cold weather. These assets become detriments, however, when a horse is worked regularly to the point of sweating. Perspiration mixes with grease in the coat, creating a film that mats the hair and clogs the skin. As the hair dries painfully slowly, the horse is vulnerable to chills, muscle soreness and illness. Skin issues such as fungal infections can also result. Some amount of body clipping becomes wise if you and your horse are in a steady program of regular work.
Here’s a list of our favorite, traditional body clips. The one you choose depends on the type of work you’ll do, how much your horse perspires, and what is acceptable for your riding discipline. Some people find it helpful to mark an outline of their desired body clip using chalk or using a small set of clippers.
This minimal clip is perfect for a horse in light work only and for a horse owner wishing to avoid blanketing except in the coldest temperatures. The clip pattern removes a strip of hair on the front of the horse’s neck along the jugular, through the front of the chest and under the belly.
Named after its original use on harness horses, the trace clip removes a swath of hair from areas horses perspire most—classically along the areas where the harness traces would touch the horse. This clip may be your choice if your horse typically runs cold or doesn’t grow a thick coat. Hair is removed from the underside and sides of the neck, shoulders and belly and is left intact on the legs and body. Some people clip a narrow swath of hair, while others prefer to clip hair about halfway up the horse. Managing comfort and warmth will necessitate the use of blankets.
You may want to use this clip if your horse gets regular, heavy work in winter. A horse will most likely need to wear a blanket with this clip, and possibly a neck cover. This clip removes hair in a pattern that leaves the horse looking as though it is wearing an exercise rug made of hair. Hair is removed from the head, neck and flanks, but is left intact on the back, hind end and legs.
Named for its traditional use on field hunters, a hunter clip is helpful for horses in hard work. The clip removes most of the hair on the body, leaving only a patch of hair on the horse’s back in the shape of a saddle (to provide some protection from friction of the saddle). Hair is left on the legs for both warmth and protection. Depending on the temperatures in your horse’s climate, a hunter clip will require the use of a blanket and a neck cover.
Full Body Clip
For those horses that perspire a great deal or are in hard work, the full body clip may be best. The entire horse is clipped, including legs and face, but whiskers are left intact for sensory perception and ear hair is excluded as it is protection from frostbite. Riders who wear spurs will often leave a patch of hair in the spur area to protect against spur rubs. Depending on the temperatures in your horse’s climate, a full body clip may necessitate a heavier, warmer blanket and neck cover.
Have tips to share about body clipping? Share your thoughts and photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!
It’s October, a perfect time to consider the state of your horse’s turnout sheets and blankets to be sure your horse gets maximum protection against rain, mud, sleet, snow and wind—especially if body clipped. Turnout blankets and sheets represent an investment in your horse’s health and comfort—and a financial investment. Here’s how to get the most from your horse’s turnouts.
Fitting Is Foremost
More than any other factor you might consider in a waterproof turnout, proper fitting is top priority. An ill-fitting or incorrectly fastened blanket promises problems, from hair rubs to leaks to entanglement. Even when you’re reusing a turnout your horse has worn, check the fit this season. Horses’ bodies change with conditioning, workload, illness and retirement, and the size or cut of a turnout may need to change accordingly.
A turnout should overlap on your horse’s chest. Adjustable chest closures should fasten near the middle. With the front closed, the back seam should sit in a logical spot on your horse’s hind end, not halfway down the dock or pulled onto the rump.
You should be able to slide one hand snugly but comfortably under the blanket, around the neckline and over the withers with your horse’s head in grazing position and raised. If the opening is too large, your horse could get a foot caught, and it may rub your horse’s shoulders. If the opening is too small, the blanket will pull on or rub the withers, mane or points of the shoulders or tug at the base of the neck.
Adjust belly surcingles or belly band so you can slide a flat hand between the strap and the horse’s belly. Looser straps can allow a leg to get tangled while your horse lies down or rolls; overtightened straps can make the blanket rub and restrict.
A tail strap should be adjusted to create about a hand’s width between the strap and the rump. Leg straps, one passing through the other in a crisscross and each clipped to their opposite side, should also be adjusted to about a hand’s width between each strap and the inside of the leg. If the straps are too long and hang to the hocks, a leg can entangle. If the straps are too short, they may inhibit movement and chafe the tender insides of the gaskin or groin area.
When all fastenings are secure, consider the overall look of the blanket. It should not sag, and it should not appear stretched over the withers or hips. The hem should hang above your horse’s knees, not at or below them.
The designs and cut of blankets vary within and between manufacturers. If you find you have an ill-fitting blanket, consider not only trying a different size from the same range, but a different model and a different manufacturer as well. For tips on measuring your horse for a blanket, see our article.
Fabrics become waterproof in various ways, but all waterproofing has one thing in common: a life expectancy. Currently, the highest quality blankets are expected to remain waterproof under normal conditions and use for three years. You can prolong waterproofing of turnouts with these easy tips:
Sweep or brush away dirt, mud and caked manure promptly from the outer surface to allow waterproofing to do its job. These stuck-on compounds absorb and hold water and hasten degrading of the waterproofing. Spread the turnout flat on the ground and sweep it with a broom or brush it while your horse is not wearing it.
Spot clean dirty areas with cool water and a brush. Save laundering turnout blankets and sheets for end-of-season unless the turnout is foul inside and out. Over-washing will degrade waterproof performance.
To prevent mildewing and saturation of fabrics, hang wet turnout to drip and dry naturally before folding.
For the recommended once-yearly washing, follow manufacturer’s care instructions carefully if you plan to do the cleaning yourself. Use only recommended cleaning methods and approved cleaners. Never use fabric softeners, as these ruin breathability and waterproofing. Professional horse clothing laundering services make end-of-season blanket care easy, and most are equipped to make blanket repairs.
When the waterproof layer finally fails, you can replace it yourself or have a professional service do so. The most important aspect for waterproofing a turnout is to use a product that will maintain the turnout shell’s breathability.
Off-season storage methods are your last step in preserving your investment. Clean blankets should be kept in a pest-free environment and out of direct sunlight.
Have tips to share for top turnout care? Share your thoughts and photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!
What is schooling apparel, and why do you want it? Loosely defined, we refer to the class of riding clothes not intended for competition as schooling apparel. It encompasses knee-patch and full-seat breeches, quarter-zip or polo shirts, plus lightweight, streamlined jackets and vests. Why is this clothing desirable for riders as opposed to t-shirts, jeans, any old tight or jacket? The answer is multifaceted: hardworking performance materials, rider-specific design features and equestrian tradition.
Most of the breeches and riding shirts you’ll find today are made from performance fabrics. These fabrics are constructed or treated to provide breathability, meaning your body heat vapors can escape, and you’re less likely to overheat.
Moisture-wicking action achieved through natural fiber content, a funnel-like weave or a chemical treatment means the fabric moves wetness away from you and the inner surface of the fabric to the outer surface for evaporation. You stay drier, and the fabric never feels heavy or wet. Cooling technology, an enhancement to moisture wicking, actively converts perspiration to a refrigerant while creating a cooling sensation on your skin.
Performance fabrics also promote your athleticism and freedom of movement. They contain some form of elastic fibers, or built-in stretch is achieved through fabric construction so the item can move with your body rather than restrict it.
Lastly, while all fabrics provide some degree of protection from ultraviolet rays, performance fabrics often have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating clearly stating how much sun coverage it will provide. What does UPF50 mean? It indicates that 1/50th of UV rays can penetrate the fabric to reach your skin.
Rider-Specific Design Features
While breeches, with their grippy knee patches and full seats, are quite obviously made to keep you in the tack, riding shirts, vests and jackets have design features that once you experience, you won’t want to ride without.
Riding shirts are typically made to provide a streamlined, figure-flattering fit. The fit is more than just attractive—it’s practical. It helps maintain a profile that enables a trainer to clearly see your riding position, and it lies smoothly under a sweater, vest or jacket with no uncomfortable bulk to encumber your riding. Many riding shirts, including polo shirts, have curved or dropped back hems to keep you covered as you move whether the hem is untucked or tucked into your waistband. Zippered plackets on the fronts of many shirts offer quick and easy adjustable ventilation.
Riding vest and jackets also support your in-saddle silhouette with many having a fitted cut, an adjustable waist or a back-waist belt detail. A two-way front zipper, a back riding vent or rear gussets make sitting in the saddle most comfortable. These features allow your outerwear to clear your saddle rather than riding up or catching under your seat. Jackets often have a removable hood or a snap to secure the hood to the back panel to prevent it from flapping.
Horse sports are steeped in tradition with an emphasis on polished turnout for horse and rider. One tradition is for riders to dress neatly and smartly when schooling at competitions, participating in riding clinics or taking lessons. Avid riders respect themselves and uphold the heritage of their sport by presenting a clean appearance with attention to detail. Shirts are tucked in, belt loops are threaded with belt, boots are polished, breeches are free of stains—and every piece fits well.
These days, dressing like a professional rider doesn’t mean you can’t wear bright colors or head-turning prints. Plenty of styles for schooling and training are available to please every rider, from the fashion-forward, to those who love bold color, to those who appreciate the most classic looks. The key is to choose items that fit and flatter your shape and your riding position and to wear colors and prints with pride.
To expand your equestrian wardrobe, browse our selection of schooling apparel here.
Do you have favorite schooling outfit? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!
If you haven’t experienced country boots yet, November is a good month to pull on a pair. Ruggedly protective and remarkably stylish, this versatile ladies’ footwear takes you anywhere in comfort despite chilly or wet weather. You can traipse through soggy paddocks, exercise your dog, or stroll through a day of window shopping— these distinctive boots keep feet dry while reflecting an enviable equestrian aesthetic. They partner perfectly with breeches, tights and jeans, and some designs even have stirrup-friendly outsoles to allow an impromptu ride.
A step up in casual style from traditional rain or muck boots, lifestyle boots are crafted from a variety of leathers and resilient textiles that stand up to wear and maintain their good looks. Waterproof treatments or waterproof membrane construction keep weather and mud out; inside, technical materials may be used to wick moisture and provide breathability to maintain a dry climate.
Outsoles feature long-lasting tread patterns designed to keep you on your feet as weather conditions vary throughout the year. Most in the category are tall boots, but individuals preferring mid-calf or ankle-high styles will not be disappointed with the variety of shorter boots available. And, these great boots come at all price points, ensuring a pair exists to fit every budget.
We love our country boots so much that we offer nearly as many styles of them as we do traditional riding boots and from all the top bootmakers. Here’s why:
Timeless: Classic silhouettes and equestrian-inspired details never look out of style.
Versatile: They’re hardwearing and easy to wear anywhere from the stable to streets to hiking on trails.
Stirrup-friendly: Some models feature outsoles and heels designed for casual riding.
Muck or groom: The tall height keeps stall bedding and barn debris out and your feet clean.
Closed, hard toes: Naturally tough foot construction is protective if a horse should step on your foot.
Deep treads: Lug outsoles provide good traction on slippery footing.
Pant legs stay dry and clean: The boots slip on easily over the bottoms of breeches, jeans and tights, creating a cool look and keeping your hems protected.
Most of all, we love our country boots because they’re comfortable. Cushioned insoles, weatherproof construction, and adjustable features such as drawstring cuffs or buckle gussets combine to ensure your feet are pampered during a long day at the barn—or anywhere else life takes you.
Browse our entire selection of country boots here.
Do you have a favorite pair of country boots? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!