Tried (and True) Equestrian – Online Consignment

Over the next few weeks, I will be doing a series of posts on alternative ways to buy name brand and quality pieces that differ from the traditional brick and mortar store.  The first alternative is online equestrian consignment shops and today’s post will give you details on what it is, how to shop and sell through consignment, and profile one of my favorite online consignment stores!  Keep a lookout for more in this series.

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My first haul from The Tried Equestrian

Finding the perfect pair of high-end breeches on sale is what I dream about.  Snagging that one pair of Tailored Sportsmans with a minor tear in the stitching that means they are 30% off gets my blood rushing.  Unfortunately, finding high-end breeches and other riding apparel on sale is often impossible.  It can happen, but the instances are few and far between in my experience.  So what do you do then if you want high quality at a low(er) price?  I use a variety of methods, but one of my favorites is through consignment stores.  Consignment works like this: people bring in new or lightly used riding apparel, gear, tack, et cetera and the consignment store then evaluates the piece and puts a price on it and puts it for sale in their store.  When the item sells, the consignment store gets a percentage of the sale price which is agreed upon beforehand and the original owner gets the remaining amount.  Some stores may work slightly differently, but that is the basic premise.  I am fortunate enough to live about an hour away from an equestrian consignment store, and have scored things like these “Pink Berry” Tailored Sportsmans for $60!  However, they are an hour away, aren’t open past 5, and often I wonder if it is worth making the drive because I usually turn up empty handed.

Luckily, there is a solution to this problem!  Whether you live far from an equestrian consignment store or don’t have the time to frequent one, there are online consignment stores.  I recently stumbled upon Tried Equestrian and immediately fell in love.  The site is clean and well put together and makes it very easy to find what you are looking for.  All of the items are in impeccable condition, some of them even still brand new with tags on!  What I really appreciate, however, is that the large majority of the items are high-end.  There is Animo, Pikeur, Ariat, Tailored Sportsman, and Equiline as far as the eye can see.  Each item has several pictures, which are essential when buying used online, so that you can ensure you really know what you are getting.  They also have a wide variety of items in all sizes and both men and women’s clothing.  The best part, which is really unprecedented for consignment stores in my experience, is that they offer returns.  Honestly, I’ve never seen a consignment store do this!  It is brilliant because you can order and get a high-end item at a fraction of the cost, but if it doesn’t fit quite right or just is not what you expected, you can easily send it back.  Return fee is just the cost of shipping which is incredibly reasonable in my experience.

The other great part?  You can sell your own items through them as well!  They make the process incredibly simple and even offer credit towards buying items from the site for those who consign with them as well.  So not only do you get to rid yourself of that show coat you never wear, you get to make some cash off it, and get some extra money towards a purchase from the site – can you say win-win?

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My nosy pup thought something this nice must be for her

Alright, so I fell in love with the site.  Next step was to get something.  I ended up getting a Horze Equestrian show shirt in navy and I will definitely have to do another post with a review on that (spoiler: it is amazing!).  What really surprised me the most about the order though was not the quality piece or the quick shipping, but the packaging.  I know, I know, it sounds silly.  But when I opened the box to the gorgeous tissue paper, expertly wrapped clothing, and personal thank you note, it seriously felt like I had just received a package from some expensive boutique!  It really added an air of luxury and sense of excitement to the whole process.  Like I mentioned before, the piece was perfect and arrived in just a few days, which surprised me since it basically shipped from across the country to get to me.  All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with the whole experience and the shirt – how often can you say that about an online purchase?  Now I know I’ll keep scouring the site for that perfect pair of breeches to add to my collection, since there is no such thing as having too many breeches.

Ready for the best part?  Tried Equestrian is offering free shipping to Cute to Boot readers!  You read that right, free shipping!  Just enter promo code CUTE2BOOT and enjoy your new, high-end piece with no shipping fee because c’mon, don’t we all hate paying for shipping?  Seriously the bane of my online shopping experiences.  So head over and give the site a shot!  Let us know how you like it and what your other favorite consignment stores are by commenting below.

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International Helmet Awareness Day 2017

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What is the one piece of your riding outfit that doesn’t change from day to day?  What is the most important piece of your #rootd that could also save your life?  You guessed it – your helmet! We have all heard the statistics on how important helmets are in preventing injury – specifically a TBI, or traumatic brain injury.  In case you haven’t heard, check out Riders4Helmets educational articles for more.  There are dozens of studies, facts and figures, along with personal anecdotes to show that wearing a helmet is an essential part of equestrian safety and can save your life.  I had a fall in the summer of 2010 that would have likely left me brain dead had I not been wearing a helmet.  I am sure you all know this, but I would be remiss not to address just how important helmets are in the equestrian world!

Okay, I am off my soapbox and now ready to help you make the most of International Helmet Awareness Day this year!  What is that, you ask? It is a day set aside each year, starting in 2010, where many various helmet brands and their retailers come together to discount their products and promote safety through the use of helmets.  What does that mean for you?  The one day (or two) a year that these crucial pieces of equipment actually go on sale!  This year, International Helmet Awareness Day is happening September 16th and 17th, so get ready to snag some deals on one of riding’s greatest essentials.  I have put together a few tips to make sure you are getting the most of International Helmet Awareness Day:

  1. As I have mentioned before, be aware of “discounts” that are not really discounts.  For example, some retailers may offer a 30% discount off your favorite brand of helmet – wow, what a saving!  However, if you look closely, the 30% off may be off the MSRP or recommended retail price, not what the helmet is normally sold for.  For instance, Shop A may have the First Lady for 20% off the “recommended” price of $730, which Shop B has 15% off the First Lady which they sell for $670.  Percentage wise, Shop A is giving you a bigger “discount”, but you are actually spending less when buying from Shop B.
  2. Try on helmets beforehand!  This really only works if you have a tack shop nearby that stocks several different brands and styles, but one year I went to my local Dover the day before International Helmet Awareness Day and tried on anything and everything I thought I might be interested to figure out what fit and what didn’t and what size I would need.  This way, the next day I could shop all the sales online with confidence, knowing that I had figured out the day before just what size and model I needed.  It saved me a lot of money and hassle as I was able to find the best deal in the right size without leaving my couch that day!
  3. Be aware of return policies.  Understandably so, many companies’ return policies vary when it comes to helmets.  It makes sense, you don’t want someone to return a helmet they claim is barely or never used but has actually been fallen in and therefore been compromised.  Many stores will allow returns but only if the tags are still on and the helmet was never worn on a horse.  Double check with your cashier or the retailer’s online return policy to make sure that if the helmet you purchase is not exactly right, you know the conditions for returning it.
  4. Trends are great, safety and fit is greater.  I have fallen victim to this.  You see a top rider rocking this gorgeous helmet that just flatters them so much and all you can think is that you need it too.  Then you try it on and it is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  For the life of you, neither you nor the sales associate can get this thing to fit your head properly.  if it does not fit you properly, do not buy it.  Helmets that don’t fit well don’t help protect you as much as those that fit.  Giving up on your dream of the one gorgeous helmet is well worth it for your safety.  Plus, these days there are many different brands and styles to choose from and you will undoubtedly be able to find the right fit that you also find cute.
  5. Be aware of other helmet related sales going on.  Several retailers are having sales on helmet related items as well! Whether it be hairnets, helmet bags, or these adorable Mind Your Melon t-shirts from Hunt Club, there will be other items on sale during this event!  In addition, many companies are offering freebies along with the purchase of their helmets during the event, such as free helmet cleaner or a free hat.  Make sure not only to take advantage of the discounts on helmets, but everything else that comes with them!

Ready to go out and find your new perfect crown?  Find a complete list of participating companies and retailers, and even search for ones near you, on the Riders4Helmets website.  So go forth, find some deals, and always remember to wear your crown!

GORGEOUS GROOMING ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET (PT. 2)

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Hopefully you caught Gorgeous Grooming on a Shoestring Budget (Pt. 1) and enjoyed it – so here is Part 2!  The following tips are provided from one of Twitter’s favorite and funniest equestrian anon’s, Groom Secrets who has years of experience grooming for some of the top riders and trainers. Check out her second set of tips below so you can make sure you that you are your mount are looking like a million bucks without spending it:

  1. Hemorrhoid cream helps grow back hair. I have used it in areas that have been accidently clipped too short or areas where the skin is healing from a wound. It also helps reduce skin swelling.  Vitamin E oil works well to grow back hair if the area is very dry, like behind their elbows.
  2. If your horse has fungus, rub baby oil into the skin to help loosen the scabs and dead skin from the hair. This way, when you scrub and wash the area, less hair will be pulled out and you don’t have a big ugly bald spot.
  3. Athletes foot cream helps kill fungus or soothe scratches.
  4. Rubbing alcohol can be used as a cheap version of liniment, just spray on the legs and put on the standing wrap.
  5. The best way to keep a white horse white the day before a show is to wash with baby shampoo, let them dry completely, and then spray them with a shine spray (I like Santa Fe because it doesn’t make the hair slippery). The next morning if there are any stains they can be rubbed out with rubbing alcohol.
  6. Rubbing alcohol can also be used on sweaty horses that aren’t sweaty enough for a bath or if it’s too cold. Just spray on the sweaty area and rub out with a towel.
  7. If your horse needs medications, crush the pills or open the tablets and mix the powder in with applesauce. Dump it right on top of their food and most horses will eagerly eat it.
  8. Rub vasoline on the corners of the mouth if the bit rubs and causes sores.
  9. Powdered Gatorade can be mixed in a bucket of water and offered to a horse after a particularly difficult workout to help replace electrolytes.

Gorgeous Grooming on a Shoestring Budget (Pt. 1)

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Cute to Boot was lucky enough to team up with everybody’s favorite groom on the circuit, @GroomSecrets! Enjoy Part 1 of this series on budget-friendly grooming tips to keep your horse looking his absolute best without spending all your hard earned cash.  Take a look:

We all know it all too well: horses are expensive. Luckily, you don’t need to go (even more) broke to take excellent care of your horse. Here are a few grooming hacks that only require a trip to the drug store and maybe a little elbow grease to help your horse look and feel his best. I always keep these well stocked in the barn and at shows.

 

  1. Mix 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar to clean moldy, musty tack. The vinegar helps kill fungus and prevent the spores from growing back.
  2. Buy your shampoos and conditioners at a drug store! They work just as well as the stuff they sell at the horse stores but for a few dollars. Scrub legs with baby shampoo daily to help prevent fungus and scratches. Especially good for horses with sensitive skin. Head and Shoulders or a similar antidandruff shampoo can be used in manes/tails the night before braiding to help reduce flakes and also help soothe the skin so they aren’t as itchy and dry (try this if your horse likes to rub). I like the Suave conditioner for tails because it’s really cheap and comes in pretty scents.
  3. Duct tape can be used for pretty much everything, we always keep a few rolls around the barn. I also like to keep a roll of black duct tape in my ringside bag in case a boot zipper breaks.
  4. Frozen peas and a polo wrap and be used to make a cheap alternative to pricey ice boots.
  5. Desitin or any other diaper rash ointment is a thick, bright white paste that can help soothe irritated skin. We also use it as shows to cover up scars or marks on white areas because it is so white and very sticky. It’s much cheaper and gentler than show touch up spray.
  6. Baby powder can be put under standing wraps to help keep the legs cool and dry. It can also be used in areas of friction if your horse has sensitive skin (under saddle pad or jumping boots, etc). Can also be put on white socks to make them extra white.
  7. Stockings can be used to polish tall boots. After applying a layer of polish (I like Kiwi), use a stocking stretched over your hand to buff like crazy. The friction will heat up and melt the polish, making your boots super shiny! We also stretch them over legs while walking from the barns to the show ring to keep dirt and dust off the legs and hooves.
  8. Diapers are an easy and cheap way to pack hooves.
  9. Pure vanilla extract is a nontoxic way to heal cuts and scrapes that are by the horse’s mouth. (sounds weird but our vet swears by it)
  10. Triple antibiotic works for any other areas

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post with further cost-saving grooming tips!

Show Ring Essentials

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It’s early morning and you are prepping for the show – what do you throw in a bag at the last minute before you rush off to go school your now semi-feral horse?  Here I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite horse show essentials that will keep you and your horse looking polished and put together without piling on to the already expensive horse show bill:

  1. Shout Wipe & Go – These are an actual lifesaver.  I picked some up on a whim one day at the grocery store and threw them in my car since I frequently end up with food stains all over my clothes because after over 20 years, I still cannot manage to eat properly.  Fast forward a few months to a local show where I had grabbed a chocolate chip breakfast bar on the way to the show and had eaten it while driving.  Due to my great luck and pure talent, one of the chocolate chips had fallen into the seat and I sat on it, resulting in a brown smear on the butt of my breeches.  Great look for the show ring, right?  Thankfully, I remembered this wipes and grabbed one and went to work.  In seconds, the stain was totally gone!  Since then, I keep a pack in my car, my tack trunk, and in my show bag. At $2.97 for a set of 12 wipes, these little guys will provide plenty of bang for your buck and keep you looking spotless at the show.
  2. Effax Speedy Leather Shine – I first saw this guy in action at an IHSA show my college was hosting and I was instantly hooked.  It is essentially a sponge with leather conditioner/shine already infused, so all you need to do is take off the lip and wipe whatever leather you have that needs a bit of shine – bridles, boots, even your saddle!  And since it has a plastic handle, your hands don’t end up all gross and sticky, which is a major plus when you are showing and trying to keep clean.  With one of these babies for $7.95, you can fulfill your Rihanna dreams and shine bright like a diamond in the show ring.
  3. Mario Badescu Facial Spray – No matter what the weather is like, I always end up hot and sweaty at the horse show.  Between bathing and prepping, dodging pony kids and their wily mounts, and oh yeah, actually riding, it’s hard not to end up sweating!  This facial spray is a godsend for those moments when you need a quick refresh to feel like you’re not completely falling apart.  The spray contains aloe herbs and rosewater and is safe on even the most sensitive of skin and adds a boost of hydration and healthy moisture!  My pro tip for this spray: on hot horse show days, leave this in your cooler/fridge if you have one.  Once chilled, this spray is exceptionally refreshing on a hot summer day!  It may sound expensive, but for $7, this spray is well worth it and a great way to treat yo’self without spending a lot.
  4. Ibuprofen – Perhaps this is my old lady-ness shining through, but I’m noticing more and more just how much I hurt during and after horse show days!  We all know how long and demanding they can be and you will not regret having some handy, travel sized ibuprofen to help ease the pain.  Ibuprofen acts as an anti-inflammatory as well so it can be perfect if you have any soreness or stiffness from an injury or just a long day.  Of course, make sure to adhere to the directions for taking it!  At $3 for a bottle of 50 200mg pills, this is definitely something you don’t want to be caught without.
  5. Washcloths/Towels – I am sure this is a no-brainer for a lot of you, but I had to include it!  There is nothing more essential or versatile at a horse show than a good rag.  You can use it for just about anything – wiping the green grass schmutz off your horse’s mouth and bit, dusting off your boots, throwing over your eyes as an eye mask while you catch a few z’s in the grooming stall in between classes… Whatever you use them for, always have plenty on hand!  You can get a pack of 8 in assorted colors for $4.99, or often I just cut up old bath towels or use old kitchen towels!  Repurposing at its finest, folks.
  6. A Cooler – I bought this cute little soft cooler at a local drug store in a pinch the night before a horse show and I have never been happier with a last minute purchase!  I love having a soft cooler – one that is not rigid and hard the way traditional coolers are, for horse shows because I find they are easier to pack and carry and still do the job!  Perfect for water, sports drinks, a little bit of wine, whatever it is you need to keep cool during the long horse show day, these babies can handle it!  You can find a top rated one that will keep contents cool for up to 24 hours for $19.97 on Amazon.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.
  7. Snacks – Alright, this is a no-brainer, I know, but so crucial it was worth mentioning.  I usually try to pack the night before the show and always make sure to include snacks.  You know how it is, you’re constantly running around doing a million things at once and food is usually the last thing on your mind.  It is essential though to feeling and performing your best during the day.  Granola and power bars are my go-to favorites because they’re tasty, portable, and can serve as the perfect pick-me-up during a hectic day.  My go-to’s are Kind and Luna bars – both are gluten free, which is one of my dietary restrictions, come in a variety of flavors, and are can often be found for $1 at most grocery stores.

Big Style, Slim Wallet

Alright, here I am  to lay it out for you.  Your own personal bible to budget shopping in the equestrian world.  I wish.  Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers or the ability to make you look like Georgina Bloomberg on a backyard budget.  What I do have though, is a unique set of skills (cue Liam Neeson voice) to help you dress your best while keeping your wallet happy.  Here goes nothing:

  1. Know when to splurge and when to save.  For instance, new tall boots or paddock boots that you will wear nearly every day and possibly on multiple horses?  Splurge and get good quality products that will hold up to the wear and tear you expect to put them through.  Fun t-shirt or a new belt? Those are definitely items you can spend a little less on and even usually find in non-equestrian specific stores, which often makes them cheaper.  Which leads to point 2…
  2. Equestrian stores are not the only place to buy stuff to ride in.  I’m sure you all know this, I know this, but I have to often remind myself of it.  Some athletic shirts make the best summer shirts (check out more on that here), you can find some fabulous belts for cheap at department stores or stores like TJ Maxx et cetera.  This is perfect for picking up #rootd worthy pieces at a discount so you can spend a little extra on some tough breeches or just save up for that next lesson.
  3. Make sure you are actually getting a good deal.  Plenty of retailers will list the “retail” price of an item and then “their” price and you think you’re getting a good deal because you’re paying “their” price which is cheaper than “retail.”  If you do a little research though, you often find that everyone is selling at the same price.  For instance, Dover gives the list price of these contrast-patch Tailored Sportsman breeches as $224, but then gives their price as $189.  If you look on SmartPak, they have the same breeches for $189 as well.  The lesson is, do a little research and make sure that the deal you think you are getting is really a deal!
  4. My go to rule when putting together an insta-worthy #rootd is to pick one “focus” item to be the key piece of your outfit.  For example, if you get a really gorgeous and trendy new belt, keep it low key and classic with the  breeches and top.  If you’ve got a cute and funky graphic tee, let everyone focus on that instead of trying to put together too many statement pieces.  The goal is to look put together and cute (for me at least), not like a flashing billboard that just wants to garner as much attention as possible.
  5. Own it.  This is the cheapest but sometimes hardest way to make your look work.  You’ve got to embrace whatever it is you are wearing and that is what will make it look amazing, not the brands or what you paid, but how much you own and appreciate what you are wearing.  Everyone is different and so is their style, so find yours and embrace it!  Even if you haven’t quite found your specific “look” yet, embrace the process!  This is supposed to be fun, remember that and rock whatever it is you’ve got on.

 

Like I said earlier, these are not the end-all be-all tips to making you look perfect every time while spending no money, but they are some things I have learned along the way that I think can apply to everyone.  Keep an eye out for future features on fabulous companies, how to hunt down the best deal, and on trend riding looks for less!  Comment below to let us know what your favor budget tip is.

Sun & Summer (and shirts)

It’s midway through the summer and you’ve spent the past couple of months roasting in the summer sun.  By now you know that the heat and humidity is no joke.  You end up covered in sweat before you even fully tack up.  And not the glistening, light, ladylike sweat, but the sticky, gross, sweat that makes you regret even stepping outside.  However, you are in luck!  Here at Cute to Boot, we have put together a list of our favorite budget friendly summer riding tops that are sure to keep you cool and complete that perfect ROOTD.  Check them out below:

Tailored Sportsman Icefil Shirt – $65 at SmartPak

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Alright, I know this bad boy isn’t really “budget”.  To be fair, it is cheaper than the ever-popular EIS shirts which ring in at an icy $85.  I got one of these shirts on sale when a small business was closing and it is honestly one of my favorite shirts to ride in.  The fabric is smooth and thick enough that it is not super flimsy, but light enough to wick away moisture and keep you cool.  The mesh under the arms helps keep you cool as well but has stood up to multiple wears and washes.  I had a Dover brand cooling shirt much like this one but the fabric felt much thinner and cheaper and the mesh under the arms ripped after a few rides.  The shirt also offers 50+ UV protection, which is a plus if you have sensitive skin.  This is certainly one of the staples in my closet during the summer and I always look forward to riding in it!

 

Ariat Sunstopper Shirt – $50

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Ariat has quickly become one of my favorite brands for equestrian clothing.  It seems silly I know, since they are such a staple of the equestrian community.  However, I used to only  turn to them for footwear.  These shirts retail at $50, however you can find them on sale for $33.71 at Stateline Tack.  This shirt also features under arm mesh to keep you cool and has special moisture wicking material to ensure that sweat disappears quickly and you won’t end up slick and smelly.  Especially at the sale price, this is one of the best sunshirts on the market for the price.  It also comes in a variety of colors and patterns that spruce up any outfit.

 

Under Armour Tech Twist Shirt – $20 at Under Armour

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I own at least half a dozen of these shirts.  I am not kidding.  And I want more.  I bought two on Zulily for about $15 and have been in love with them ever since.  These shirts are everything that you want in the summer – they are lightweight, fitted but not too tight to be constricting, they wick moisture better than any other shirt I’ve tried, they come in a variety of colors, and are cheap! If you can grab them on sale, they’re about $15 but even not on sale, they are only $20.  I wear them practically every day during the summer, they’re perfect for riding in the morning and then running some errands or going to a horse show to watch or groom.  I’ve had mine for over a year now and through multiple, and I do mean multiple, washes they still look brand new!  Seriously, you need to own at least one of these shirts.

 

 

 

So there you have it folks – some of the best shirts to rock during the summer months to keep you cool and your outfit on fleek (is that how the youth’s use that word?).  Feel free to comment below with some of your favs! Keep a look out for some fresh summer rootds and more budget friendly tips.