Product Review: Sun shirts

April 15, 2021

I love being outside. And I have always been good about slathering on ample sunblock, but sometimes that is just not enough.

I have had two run-ins with skin cancer. The first one was basal cell carcinoma last winter. The doctors cut it out. Not such a big deal, but still a concern. This winter was stage one Melanoma and required quite a large cut into my cheek to be cut out. Much scarier.

I do spend a lot of time outdoors riding my pony, and competing, which generally takes place in the warmer (ie. sunnier) months, also generally on reflective all weather footing for long stretches of time. This is unavoidable. So I decided to invest in some sun shirts.

I am a hot person, and I work indoors in a nice climate controlled environment, and generally am poorly adapted to the humid muggy sun blasting summers we have in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA. This has only gotten worse as I have gotten older, and unfortunately, fatter. Which is a whole other topic we will not delve into today.

So what do we want in a sun shirt?
1. Full coverage. sleeves long enough to cover the tops of my hands being key.

2. Breathable. As mentioned I get hot quickly, so this shirt has got to breath.

3. Fit. I want a shirt loose and long enough to cover my belly. Being comfortable is very important. I do not want a shirt that rides up or is restrictive.

4. Cost. I would say cost is also important, and it is, but the first three points far out weigh cost. Especially considering there are not that many options available, and they all seem to have pretty hefty price tags. And shoot, after paying all my medical bills from these two cancer extractions, these shirts are not comparably that expensive.

The Sun Shirts

Amazon SPF50 Sun Shirt – This shirt was $14.99 making it by a long shot the cheapest. It arrived quickly and I wore it to work, you know that nice climate controlled office I mentioned, as a test. It was way too hot. As in, this shirt did not breath at all. I was sweaty and hot and uncomfortable all day, and it was not that hot out, and I was inside most of the day! I suppose this might be considered a “rash guard” shirt, more for surfing or being in the water. It was thick, did not breath, and reminded me of my winter base layers for particularly cold days. It was comfortable and did have full coverage and a good price tag, but it was simply too hot. Complete fail.

Ariat Sunstopper 2.0 – I got this one in imperial blue, which is such a lovely color. I ordered it off of Amazon for $63, and was impressed with the color options. It is pretty thin material and the cut is nice. But I felt like I would need to size up two full sizes to make it work. It did cover my hands but was just too fitted in general. It is sadly also made out of pretty thick material. Although it does feel like it would breath, it wouldn’t breath enough. A step closer but still not making the cut.

Tuff Rider Vented Technical Shirt – I got this one in navy blue with white off of Amazon for a rather respectable price of $30. The white under the arms is very thin, almost like a veil. Sort of a rough scratchy, vs thin and flowy material but it does appear it would breath very well. But the rest of the shirt is thick. Very thick. Like its not going to breath thick, so that your only air flow is under the arms. I do like the cut and it fit pretty true to size. I think with the thickness I would want to size up one size just to add some airflow, but I do not think that would be enough to reach the cooling effect I am looking for.

Performa Ride Technical Riding Shirt – Being that Performa Ride is out of Australia I spoke to a company rep before I ordered this shirt to get a better idea of sizing and I opted to size up one size for a looser fit. It was $60. I was originally attracted to this shirt due to a post by the company I saw on Face Book of a custom shirt they had done for an endurance team. It was lovely work and the shirt really did appear to be light and breathable. Upon receiving it, I was correct about the breathability. I like the thin material, it is well made and has teeny tiny little holes all through it for air flow. I love the fit and found it it covered my hands well. But it was still tighter than I would like in a sun shirt and it also felt like it would ride up if I did not size up again. Super close but still not a win.

Kerrits Ice Fill Shirt – I grabbed one in Navy off of Amazon for $60. I do have two rather old Kerrits sun shirts I purchased maybe ten years ago. I think I scored them off of I wore them constantly and both are still in pretty darn good condition so I was really hopeful the current version of these shirts would make the cut. The current season of the Kerrits Solid Ice Fill Shirts comes in Navy, Black, and White. I also found some discounted patterned ones which I am not sure but suspect they may be last years editions. This shirt is so thin. It is full of teeny tiny holes that allow air flow, but the material itself is thin and light but structurally sound. It is far far lighter than any of the other shirts I tried, and even lighter than the older Kerrits sun shirts I have. The cut is great, the new line is slightly longer than my older versions, which is preferred, and the sleeves cover the tops of my hands. As soon as I put this shirt on I knew it was a win so I grabbed my pony and went for a gallop to try it out in practice and I was still happy. The next day I went to purchase more of this shirt and was already having trouble finding the color/size combos I wanted. It took a bit of work but I eventually found another navy one, one of the previous years patterned ones (on sale!), and some white ones. I was not able to find black in my size. These shirts also come in a short sleeved version, so if you are not so worried about sun protection, but want a nice airflowing collared shirt for lessons the short sleeve is lovely. And perhaps more long sleeves will be available as we actually reach the hot, muggy, and sunny months yet to come.

The winner is the Kerrits Ice Fill!

Product Review: Hurtta Dog Cooling Vest

February 1, 2021

Daisy is my main riding companion and we love to spend our time climbing mountains and racing up fire roads together. Trail riding is our main off-season, winter-time activity. But with Covid causing competitions to be canceled, we filled our summer of 2020 with trail riding. Daisy is an experienced horse dog, with lots of trail riding miles under her collar, and she knows to lay in creeks and puddles when the opportunity presents itself. She is also getting older, and I am happy to put in any effort to make her life easier. This brought me to looking into the Hurtta Cooling Vest for her. We already have a Hurtta rain coat and a Hurtta winter coat and have been completely impressed with their quality and functionality so I had no question of selecting the Hurtta brand.

Their size guide is pretty handy and accurate and I ordered Daisy the Large from Amazon for $35. Daisy is a Medium dog, about 55lbs, a lean and fit suspected Catahoula mix dog. It came quickly and I followed the instructions by running it under water before putting it on her. It fit great. Not too tight and not too loose. The vest clips closed and then zips up, making it very easy to put on. The material and quality are excellent as expected and the functionality is just as good. This is why I choose to go with Hurtta, quality and functionality.

We rode around at home, getting in lots of gallops up the hills to give it a nice test. It was a hot, humid Virginia July day. When we stopped I quickly jumped off my pony and checked Daisy. She remained cool to the touch under the vest, dry, but cool. I would also say she appeared to be more comfortable and cooled down quicker than she usually did in these same conditions without the vest. I was impressed.

A couple days later I gave the vest its first try on the trails. To help give it optimum cooling I packed it in a gallop zip lock with cold water and some ice cubes for the drive to the trail, waiting until we arrived to outfit Daisy. We took off on a good two-three hour ride, climbing mountains and racing along trails. Daisy still plopped down in the creeks we crossed which I assume helped keep her vest “recharged” to continue cooling her. When we got back to the trailer I checked under the vest and found her to be nice and cool to the touch, and she seemed to cool down a bit quicker than usual. Again, impressed.

I am very happy with this purchase and continued to use it for the rest of the summer, and will be using it again when the temperatures heat back up this coming summer.

Neville loves the Lik-It

August 23, 2020

Today I took Simon out for a trail ride with Carol Ann. I put Neville in the woods paddock like I usually do when I leave him home alone. The paddock was prepped with two full hay barrels and a nearly new Lik-It hanging from a tree. I also left his halter on which is typical for when I leave him home alone.

When I got home he had green all over his face and his halter, even up on his eye lids. He had nearly finished the Lik-It, and wrapped it around a tree. Simon licked Neville’s nose a few times then trotted over to the Lik-It to go right to the source.

Product Review: LikIt!

September 27, 2018

Simon is still living alone and still bored and into mischief. With this in mind I remembered to pick up a LikIt refill and strung it up from a tree in his paddock.

I didn’t realize he had used it the first day I had him in the paddock. When I moved him back into it he walked right over to the tree and started licking away. That’s when I noticed he had already licked a good portion of it away.

Video of him licking his heart out.

He also enjoyed tossing it around, biting it, and just playing with it in general.

Video of him playing

I give the LikIt two thumbs up!

Review: Shires Feed Ball

September 20, 2018

Simon is one of those ponies that’s always into something. I can’t keep a halter or fly mask on him. He runs around with his feed pan in his mouth. He has been spotted standing partially in the water troth.  He chases his field mate with sticks and I can’t leave anything he can damage out in this field or anything he can reach through the fence.

He is a pony that gets bored very easily and he recently became an only pony so he no longer has a field mate to chase around and force to play with him. This means he has been extra mischievous lately.  He has broken into the hay room twice, rampaging through the hay, and tearing open bags of shavings.  He also started busting out the side of the run in.  I think he enjoys this because he can flap the metal sheets to make a lot of noise.

I was at Tractor Supply on Tuesday and I saw a Shires Ball Feeder in stock for $20. I’ve thought about getting one before and this felt like the right day to give it a try.

I was skeptical at first. Is it a pain to load? Does the feed just pour right out? Is it too difficult to get the feed out? Will my pony have interest?

Time to give it a try:

Last night I put Simon’s dinner into the ball. It poured in super easy. No mess. I shook it so he could hear his dinner inside and I sat it on the ground.

Here is a video of him trying it out for the first time.

He figured it out immediately and got some of his feed out in just a few pushes. He stopped and ate the feed he got out and then went back to pushing the ball around. Sometimes he flipped it quickly to the correct side, and other times it took him quite a few rolls to get just a little bit out.

He spent a good while rolling that ball around and eating his dinner. And his mischievous brain was occupied the whole time.

I found the ball easy to load, the grain came out in different amounts depending on his roll, and it kept him occupied and engaged. I also really enjoyed watching him.

I don’t think it would work in taller grass but it worked well in my small yard paddock where the grass is short.

When I stepped out onto my porch this morning, I found him rolling it around, with what sounded like one single grain pellet inside. I happily put a small handful in and gave it back to him. He was still rolling it around when I left for work a little later.

He did not seem frustrated at all, simply engaged.

I am going to continue giving him his dinner in the Feed Ball. And I am going to pick up some of the large pellet shaped horse treats to load it up with.

I am very satisfied with this purchase!

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