Schooling Apparel: How Every Rider Benefits

A woman is riding a brown horse with a sunny background. The horse and rider are facing right. The rider is wearing a black helmet, an orange shirt with blue pants. The horse is wearing a brown bridle with a brown saddle and a multi-color saddle pad.

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.  

Hardworking Materials

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.

A rider and horse are riding in an arena with palm trees in the background. Both the horse and rider are racing the camera. The rider is wearing a black helmet, aqua shirt, grey pants and black boots. The horse is tan and is wearing a black bridle and saddle, and white polo wraps.

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.

A rider with a black helmet, purple shirt, light purple pants and black boots is sitting on a brown horse. There is a woman with dark brown hair, sunglasses, a pink sweater, tan pants, and black boots holding onto the horse's bridle. They are standing in front of a barn facing to the left.

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.

Equestrian Traditions

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!

Spring Cleaning: The Wise Rider’s Way

The right hand and torso of a person wearing a zip up hoodie is shown cleaning their black dressage saddle with saddle soap. The saddle is sitting on a wooden fence. Next to it are a pile of bridles also hanging on the fence.

Welcome March, the month when some folks embark on home spring-cleaning frenzies. Around here, our idea of spring cleaning focuses on tack. Spring marks a perfect time to thoroughly inspect and recondition your horse’s leather tack, whether you’ve competed in warm places all winter, continued training despite frigid temps, or simply enjoyed downtime with your horse.

If you’re like us, signs of wear or gradual decline in leather condition are easy to ignore in busy daily riding routines, and repairs are easy to postpone. These issues can be addressed best now, with ample time for repair or replacement, before local riding activities gain full swing. As added benefits, reconditioned tack is more comfortable for your horse to wear, safer for both of you, and it supports a maximum return on your investment.

Inspect All Tack

Just as your skin suffers abrasions and dryness from irritants such as sand and sweat, your leather does, too. Regular use can degrade leather even if you diligently wipe away grime as recommended after every ride. Saddles and bridles that have been stored improperly can dry out, grow mold and mildew or be compromised by rodents, sunlight, varying temperatures, and other environmental factors.

Look closely at each piece of your horse’s leather tack for areas under pressure during use or where sweat or saliva may collect, such as:

  • Reins and cheek pieces where they attach to bit rings.
  • Saddle billets where they buckle to the girth.
  • Stirrup leathers where irons and buckles cause creases.
  • Girths along the full length, from buckles to elastic inserts to linings.   
  • Halters where hardware meets leather.  
A close-up of a stirrup iron attached to a stirrup leather is shown. The stirrup leather is dark brown, almost black and the stirrup is made of shiny black metal.
A close-up is shown of a stirrup leather attached to the hook of a saddle underneath the protective flap.
The underside of the crown piece of a blue halter is shown against a dark grey background. The blue leather is cracked and worn.

Any cracked or torn leather may break at the worst time—during a ride or while handling a horse. These areas indicate hazard and necessitate repair or replacement. Check that all stitching is tight and intact; loose stitching on stirrup leathers, saddles or girths also poses risk.

Inspect and touch any surface that lies directly against your horse, such as girth linings or padding in bridles and halters. Although not an immediate safety hazard, any item that feels rough should be budgeted for replacement or repair to protect your horse’s skin from chafing and to ensure optimal comfort.

Note: Some leatherwork professionals won’t repair reins, girths or stirrup leathers as a safety precaution. Saddle billet straps are replaceable, and some bridle and halter repairs are worth the expense. Generally, bridle parts and reins are readily replaceable at any budget to eliminate the need for repair.

Clean & Condition

When you’re satisfied with the quality of your tack, give it a thorough once-over using your favorite leather cleaner. Now is the time to take apart a bridle, martingale or breastplate and remove grunge from creases. Warm water and a soft toothbrush can help you get grime out of crevices. Turn your saddle upside down and clean all nooks and crannies. Once the leather is dry, follow up with a nourishing leather conditioner or leather balm.

Browse our entire selection of leather care products here.

Do you have an example of extreme tack wear? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Our New Year’s Resolution: Clean Brushes, Shiny Horse

Five brushes are in a metal basket that is hung on a wooden wall. The grooming brushes all have wooden handles with different colored bristles.

What better time of year than January to take a good hard look at your horse’s grooming tools? Do your brushes have dented bristles or are they clumped with sebum and grime? Are your curries dull or clogged with dirt and hair? You can maximize the health benefits of grooming your horse—and create an experience more enjoyable for both of you—by using clean brushes and replacing items that are worn out. Hygienic grooming tools care for your horse’s skin best and bring out your horse’s shine.

We recommend cleaning brushes and curries once monthly to remove buildup. If at some point you encounter a skin disease in your horse, be sure to isolate the brushes and curries used on the affected areas and clean them more frequently.

We love this economical and effective way of cleaning grooming tools: fill a bucket or sink with hot water and mix in Dawn® Dish Washing Liquid, which will lift out grease and rinse well. If the brushes are all synthetic with plastic handles, a splash of bleach can be added to the mix. Bleach is drying to natural-bristled brushes with wooden handles, so it should only be used on this type of brush when suspicion of skin disease or other equine illness is present. Another way to sanitize brushes is to add a moderate amount of Listerine® Mouthwash to the wash water—it smells fresh and can help kill bacteria.

Soak the brushes for several minutes, agitating them to loosen dirt. Rinse and repeat the process until the water is no longer discolored and you don’t see any soap suds. Rinsing thoroughly is important to prevent a buildup of soap residue in the brush bristles. Spread your clean horse brushes on a towel in a warm location or in the sun where they can drain and dry thoroughly before returning them to their storage tote.

A grooming tote made from black canvas is hanging from a metal pole. There are piles of hay bales in the background and the tote is filled with brushes, curry combs, hoof picks, and spray bottles.

As an added tip to get the most out of your brushes, always store them in a way that protects the bristles from being crimped or smashed. Many types of grooming totes are available, but no matter which you use, stand your brushes on end so that each is balanced on the tip of the handle. Alternatively, you can gently nestle the bristles of two brushes together so that they interlock for storage.

To browse our entire selection of grooming tools and other horse care items, click here.

We want to know how you love to spend time at the barn grooming your horse; share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

The World of Breyer: Sharing the Magic of Horses

What better time than the holiday season to celebrate the magic of Breyer® Model Horses? Breyer Animal Creations® as a company has spread joy and inspired dreams among horse lovers young and young-at-heart since its serendipitous inception in 1950. For many of us here at Dover Saddlery, the first horse we ever owned was a Breyer creation. We played with the model horses, lined our shelves with them, named them and loved them—and we’re willing to bet many of our customers have fond memories of their own Breyer collections, too.

A Breyer Christmas Ornament is shown. A brown horse facing to the left is hanging from a red ribbon.

Every year, as Breyer’s Holiday Horse makes its debut in all its festive finery, we feel that same spark of wonder and excitement we had as children whenever a new model horse was introduced. We take pleasure at gifting Breyer model horses to the children in our lives, treasure keepsake Breyer Christmas ornaments, and let our imaginations delight in the intricacies of the latest Breyer stable or horse transport.

From the detailed recreations of the world’s most famous competitive equines, to breed-specific models, to fanciful unicorns, and the annual Halloween Horse—Breyer never disappoints. Each lifelike model horse tells a story. Hundreds of accessories, figurines, companion animal models, play sets, and craft kits round out the Breyer experience, all supported by a wide network of Breyer events, model horse shows, clubs and more. And to think, Breyer as we know it today was formed by a happy accident!

#57 Wester Horse produced by Breyer in 1950. The horse is light brown with a gold colored western saddle and bridle. It is being viewed to the side with the horse facing left.
Breyer’s #57 Western Horse

The story began in Chicago, Illinois with Breyer Molding Company filling industry needs as a plastics manufacturer. F.W. Woolworth Company commissioned a special order to accent a mantelpiece clock—it was the #57 Western Horse—and no one could predict how that single commissioned model would lead to a thriving specialty business with a worldwide following of fans of all ages. Woolworth’s clock made its debut in 1950 on the shelves of the department store, and the Breyer Molding Company was soon flooded with requests from people who wanted to purchase just the horse! The Breyer Molding Company’s business focus thus changed forever, taking on the goal of making the world’s finest model horses.

Each model horse is created in resin based on an artist’s highly detailed and creative sculpture. It is painted to reflect authenticity, quality and realism, all with the goal of delivering the most high-quality toy or collectible the world has to offer. To hold a Breyer model horse in your hand is to enter the magical world of horses—no matter how young or how old you may be.

Click here to shop our wide selection of Breyer Horses and Accessories.

Do you have a favorite model horse? Or, pictures of your Breyer Horse Collection? Share them with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Equestrian Country Boots: Iconic Style with a Punch of Practicality

A pair of legs from the thigh down are shown standing in a grassy field. The person is wearing tall country boots over knee-high socks and blue pants.
A pair of tall country boots made from brown leather and light brown suede. The boots have laces at the top and black tread on the bottom.

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.

A pair of light brown country boots. The boots are mid-calf height with black tread on the bottom.

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!

Valentine’s Day Gifts for the Equestrian in Your Life

A bay horse touching foreheads with a grey pony to form a heart shape for Valentine's Day.

Searching for the perfect gift to show the horse lover in your life just how much you care this Valentine’s Day? We’ve got you covered. Whether you are gift shopping for an equestrian loved one, a four-hoofed Valentine, or treating yourself, our 2020 Valentine’s Day gift roundup features a range of swoon-worthy gifts to fit every budget.

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5 End-of-Summer Activities for You and Your Horse

With just a few more weeks of warm weather before it’s time pack up your summer riding clothes and stock up on cozier fall schooling layers, we’ve narrowed down some of our favorite summer activities for equestrians. Enjoy these fun summer ideas with your horse, horse-loving families, and barn friends.

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Top 10 Picks to Keep You and Your Horse Cool All Summer Long

Don’t let high temperatures keep you out of the saddle! Check out our favorite products to keep both horse and rider cool despite the summer heat.

Girl riding bay horse bareback on a hot summer day.

August is here and summer is truly in full swing. And, as much as we love long sunny days at the barn, most equestrians know that sticky humidity and too-hot temperatures can take the fun out of ring work. On particularly sweltering days, we certainly encourage rest days or trail rides over hard schooling. But, for those days when the weather is just hot enough to be uncomfortable, we’ve picked out ten of our favorite summer items to help keep you and your horse cool while exercising.

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Best Holiday Gifts for Horse Lovers

It’s Christmas in July at Dover Saddlery and we’ve rounded up our favorite holiday gifts!

English rider in the saddle leaning down to hug her grey horse's neck.

It’s never too early to start your holiday shopping. This year, beat the winter rush and start shopping at Dover Saddlery now for gifts that any horse lover, rider, and equestrian will adore. To make your holiday shopping easier, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite items, whether you’re looking for stocking stuffers or show-stoppers — we even added a few ideas for your non-horsey friends and family. So, get in the holiday spirit early and take a look through our top 15 holiday gifts for horse lovers! Now, check out our 2019 updated gift guide here for tons of fantastic holiday gifts for the equestrians, pets, and loved ones in your life.

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10 Mother’s Day Gifts That Mom Will Love

Two grey horses touching noses.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to show Mom just how much you care with a thoughtful gift that she’ll love! If you’re struggling to find a gift worthy of the horsewoman in your life, Dover Saddlery is here to help. We’ve picked 10 gifts that are sure to make any mom smile, whether you’re looking for covetable riding apparel or the perfect accessory for Mom to rock outside of the barn.

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