cheap thrills (c/o Viva Carlos)

When L posted about the cheap products she’s upgraded for better quality ones, I identified quiiite a bit with a lot of those items. Polo shirts that doubled as work/school shirts and riding shirts? Check (though I went with Old Navy ones). Pull on breeches with no zipper and questionable seaming? Check.

There are a couple of other items I’m adding to the list though, and a few that I hope to add in the future.


yeah so neither of these is a great look on me

The biggest cheap item I replaced with a better version? My show coat(s). I’ve owned three in the past: a free, woolen hunter coat with fox-head buttons. A Horze show coat (no longer available, but looked a bit like this one) that cost around $90. And the Equine Couture Raleigh Show Coat, $70.

The first coat was given to me by a friend at my barn who no longer wanted it, and it was a warm, boxy, uncomfortable mistake. I think I wore it once, then it sat in my closet for the rest of eternity months. The Horze coat was my replacement when I was shopping for my first rated event, and while the price point was pretty good, it fit me terribly. I probably should have sized down, but it was always too long for my torso and bunched horribly about the waist. I replaced that with the Equine Couture coat, thinking that a shorter (yet still cheap) coat would fix that problem. It didn’t.


how much do I love it?! let me count the ways

Replaced with: Winston Exclusive Equestrian Coat

I tried on one of these coats at the Sacramento International with Peony and Megan and I adored it right off the bat. It fit perfectly, even off the horse — which none of my previous coats did. The rep offered to give me 10% off if I ordered through him by the end of the week, but I absolutely couldn’t justify pulling the trigger on a near-$750 show coat. L found a tack store that was closing down, though, and on their site I found a heavily-discounted, $450 version of the coat in my size, navy and gray. I had originally wanted back and purple, but I was willing to compromise for $300 off. I bought it, and have no regrets. It’s averaging around $75 per use these days! #worthit

tbt to my horse looking miserable in polos

Replaced: Polo wraps. Ranged in price from $10-$40

I used to be all about those polos. I had 4 or 5 sets at one point (nothing compared to many others, I know), and was planning to add in a few other colours because they were soooo purdy.

Replaced with: Dover brushing boots($25 per pair on sale), Majyk Equipe Dressage Boots(a gift, but $90 per pair, that was a way bigger gift than I realised)

In a wet arena, polos get disgusting really fast. And you can never wrap them the exact same way each time. And eventually, they just kinda look like shit. And I don’t buy anything about their ability to “support tendons and ligaments”, they’re literally just there to stop my horse from hurting himself quite so much when he knocks his limbs together. You know what looks clean even when you’ve washed them seven times and have a dedicated shell to prevent impact trauma? Boots. My polos never exactly wore out, but I’m much happier with 2 pairs of dressage boots than I was with 5 pairs of polos.

matching bling on point

Replaced: Ovation Schooler helmet ($65)

I used to think it was absurd to pay more than $100 for a helmet. Also, this helmet was light and breezy and I didn’t think there was anything else you needed in a helmet.

Replaced with: a variety of Charles Owen helmets (J3 skull cap, Jr8, $180-$300).

Then I realized the value of safety. But also, that the higher quality helmets can fit better, be incredible comfortable, and look good. I don’t regret spending >$500 on helmets in the last five years. Would I spent >$500 on a single helmet? You’d have to give me some really amazing safety features for that to happen.

Replaced: off-brand/Amazon/Target tall socks ($2-$10)

I’m all about tall socks under boots. Or all the time. I just like tall socks. But I thought paying real money for tall socks was stupid — minus the $20 I paid for my SmartWool socks while skiing. They’re just socks. They wear through, and they shouldn’t cost all that much money.

Replaced with: Kerrits wool socks ($18)

One morning my feet were already cold and wet, and I had a long day ahead of me. I stopped in at the tack store as I went by and grabbed two new pairs of socks — thick, good ones. And they made my day. And kinda changed my life. I’m willing to invest a little in socks now.

Replaced with: Noble Outfitters Peddies ($14), Noble Outfitters technical socks ($12 for the perfect fit ones)

To be honest, every piece of the Noble Outfitters gear I have was a gift (I have a family friend who was a rep and had a lot of leftover demo stuff). And the first time I put on a pair of peddies I thought they were stupid. Now? I reach for them preferentially. I wear through the heels of my socks like crazy, and the thicker foot bed but thin calf on these is juuust right for Goldilocks over here.

Replacing: clearance sale tall boots (usually Ariat Heritage boots, bought on sale for $150-$200)

I used to always keep an eye out for tall boot sales in my size. I’m lucky that I have an odd-shaped leg that isn’t too uncommon — a 6-6.5 footbed with a long, thin calf — and usually there are a few pairs of these floating around at the end of the season. I currently have two sets that I use, one for schooling and one for showing.

Replacing with: better, higher quality, more comfortable boots

I haven’t actually pulled this trigger yet, but I imagine I will sometime in the not-too-distant future. A couple of weeks ago I forgot my boots when I went to the barn, and one of the ladies there loaned me her Ariat Volants. They were SO COMFY. And they did not have any of the weird heel issues that tall boots so often plague me with. I just assumed I had a particularly poorly-conformed heel, because I wear through the heels of all of my shoes. But it turns out that you can get things that fit you better, and they will be more comfortable, and probably last longer.

On the other hand, there are some cheap things I keep around and won’t replace.  For example, gloves. I stick with the cheap SSG goves, because I lose one or the other often enough that it would make me really sad to replace them. I still have all of my cheap Dover-esque saddle pads and won’t be replacing those any time soon either — saddle pads just don’t wear out that quickly, in my experience, so why would I spend the money on more?

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9 thoughts on “cheap thrills (c/o Viva Carlos)

  1. A well-fitting show coat makes a HUGE difference in how you look! At work, I always advise people to splurge on the coat and save on the breeches and show shirts.

    Good socks are always a good idea, too- I have several pairs of SmartWool ones that I love. My in-laws give me a pair for Christmas every year, and they’re my favorite gift.

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    • It really helps! Because the coat is so comfortable and I can move so well in it, I don’t even think about it. In the other coats there was always a little bit of discomfort from the poor fit in the back of my mind, so I probably wasn’t riding as clearly as I could have been.

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  2. I’ve ben trying to make this change in my life. I am a cheapskate at heart, but I am trying to buy nice things that last instead of constantly replacing. I love Peddies when I’m wearing my tall boots. The rest of the time I stick to wool socks. I did finally cave and give up my cheap SSG and heritage gloves for roeckls and they really are nicer. But I hear what you’re saying if you lose them it makes sense to go cheap.

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    • Yeah me too. And sometimes having a lot of cheap things (i.e. 40 pairs of cheap target socks) is better than having only a few quality things (3 really nice pairs of socks that are suddenly all in the wash at the same time).

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  3. I went the opposite way with the socks!

    I had the Eurostar etc. specialty socks and now I reach for my $5 for 3 Kmart long socks out of preference.

    They’ve held up for ages and I like that they are thinner?? No idea why.

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