First of all, there’s no such thing as a “tiny” show – even a class with two horses can feel intense if you’re under stress (trust me, I’m speaking from experience)! However, having the right gear can always help put your mind and ease and cross one thing off your list, so it’s awesome that you’re looking for a new coat to help polish your look a bit more.
The right coat is all about fit, and different brands fit everyone a little differently, so if you don’t like the first coat you try, keep trying! (That’s where SmartPak’s free shipping both ways comes in really handy.)
So, first things first – single vs. double vented – I (and several other SmartPakers I checked with) always prefer double vented. Double vents allow the coat to fall a little nicer and more smoothly in the saddle, eliminating bunching and any awkward pulling. However, double vents are pretty rare on new coats under $100.
When it comes to colors, there are a lot of options. Since you’re looking for a coat that will be good for a few years, I’d encourage you to stick with navy or black. These may not be the “hottest” or trendiest colors in the ring, but they’ll never go out of style, either. And, navy and black both work very well in all three rings (hunter, jumper and equitation), so a black or navy coat will be a lasting investment even if you change up your focus a bit.
So, all that said, which option should you pick?! Well, I have a couple recommendations:
– Check out ebay and consignment listings at tack shops near you – one rider’s “trash” is another rider’s treasure, so there are a lot of great deals to be found. Just be aware that everything there is probably going to be a few years old, so there might be some trendy stuff that’s now passe that you’ll want to avoid.
– If you want to go new and really want to stay under $100, there are two picks from quality brands that you might like, the Equine Couture Raleigh Soft Shell Hunt Coat: http://bit.ly/1bqSqag and Horseware’s Competition Jacket: http://bit.ly/1bqSwyA. The Equine Couture Coat is a bit more traditional, while Horseware’s is a bit trendier. Both of these coats are made from the very popular, relatively new soft shell fabric, which will save you a lot on dry cleaning bills!
– If you’re able to invest a little more, RJ Classics makes some really nice hunt coats (my first “nice” coat was an RJ and I LOVED it), and they offer a wide range of price points. If your budget is tight, their Ladies Hunt Coat is a really nice option: http://bit.ly/1bqTs6b, and does have the nice double vents. If you have a little more flexibility in your spending, their Essential Collection Hunt Coat is a really fantastic option at a relatively low price point (also double vented): http://bit.ly/1bqUKy1.
One more thing to keep in mind – if you save money on the coat up front, consider investing in having it tailored to you (it’s cheaper than most people think!). A bargain coat that fits fabulously is going to look way better than an expensive coat that isn’t quite right.
I hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions. As you can see, I can talk about this stuff all day long!
Rider, Runner, Stuff-Riders-Say-er, SmartPaker