Showgrounds at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. It was so dark this was the only pic I took that turned out. Boo.
- Everyone wore black coats. I didn’t see a single grey or brown coat anywhere.
- The upper-level riders all wore helmets (no top hats!), and the ladies all had bling on their helmets. The men did not. I didn’t see any bling on helmets for lower-level riders, although there were some SUPER blingy belts being sported!
- There were an even number of plain browbands and browbands with bling.
- Everyone had a white saddle pad (no piping) with a white fleece half-pad.
- I saw two horses with running braids (instead of button braids).
- The scores were surprisingly low, especially compared to the scores that Karen at Bakersfield Dressage reported at her regional championships. Intro, Training, and First level divisions were all won with a 65%. There were a lot of scores in the upper 50s, which surprised me for a championship.
- White gloves are the norm, even at the lower levels. I’ve never worn white gloves – never felt like my hands were good enough.
- The horses and riders were nice, but the arenas weren’t full of imported warmbloods (which I sort of expected). If Paddy and I ever qualify for the championships, I don’t feel like we would be outclassed.
And now, on to my coat-trying-on extravaganza.
Nearly all the coats available were technical, washable fabric. While I can see this would be easier to care for, stretchier, and cooler, I also thought they really didn’t look that good. They aren’t lined (except for Pikeur and Cavallo) and they just look rumpled when they are on. Riders who were wearing technical coats sort of look like they had just slept in their coats. They didn’t have that sleek, tidy appearance that the lined lightweight wool coats (i.e. most of the shads, and the Pikeur coats) have.
I tried on the FITS coat (mesh panels under the arms, which I didn’t love), Pikeur Skarlett and another short, technical Pikeur, RJ Classics, a Cavallo (waaay too big all around, and not a good length for me) and two brands I didn’t recognize. Every coat I tried on that fit in the shoulders was too big everywhere else, including the sleeves. The long version of one of the coats fit much better on the waistline, but the tails were far too long and would need to be shortened (and it also looked really rumpled on me – another technical coat). So the upshot of all this coat-trying-on is… as everyone suggested in my coat post, I need to buy a coat that fits in the shoulders, and simply get the rest of the coat (including the sleeves) tailored. And I don’t love the look of the unlined technical fabric coats, no matter how cool they may be.
I almost – ALMOST – bought a gorgeous brown Kingsland coat, 100% Italian wool, on sale for over 50% off. The size 40 (US size 12) fit well in the shoulders (maybe a smidge big?) but was huge everywhere else – major tailoring would have been required. And while I think Paddy would look smashing in a brown coat (and brown is a great color on me too), I do not NEED a brown coat right now and cannot justify spending the money on one, even if it IS a Kingsland. Besides, I’d need a brown helmet to go with it, and I can’t justify buying one of those either. Alas.
Oh you beautiful thing... how I covet you! Image courtesy of Classic Equine.
So, I’m back to the Pikeur Diana. Now I just need to figure out what size in the shoulders, and in a Long or regular. I can’t go off the sizing of the coats that DID fit me this weekend, because every coat manufacturer makes a slightly different size for the same “size”. Gah! Of course, the Diana is a “traditional” style (i.e. longer) and somewhat hard to find, so this means ordering a bunch of different sizes (from a bunch of different tack stores) and trying them all on to find the best fit. The search continues!
Despite not being able to find The Perfect Coat, it was a great trip and well worth the time. Plus I had sushi on the way home… can’t beat that!