From Endurance to Dressage
I finally got on the sun shirt band wagon. I hesitated to even think about investing that much money in a shirt with long sleeves when I live in the second hottest place on the planet. I think Bagdad gets the honor of being THE hottest place.
In any case, a friend talked me into trying out her Kastel shirt which led me to order FOUR sun shirts. In my defense, I only kept three of them. So here's the run down in reverse order, least liked to favorite.
SunShield Longsleeve Shirt by SmartPak
I love SmartPak, I really do, but in this case, they missed the mark. I pulled this shirt out of the packaging and slipped it on. I wore it for about three seconds before I pulled it off and stuck it back in the package. I hated it. It was really stiff, the fabric was thick, and the fit was super blocky. If I hadn't already worn the Kastel, I might not have been so picky, but I doubt it. SmartPak's sunshirt retails for $59.95, but with my USEF discount, SmartPerks discount, and free shipping, it was only $51.26. Even at that price, I promptly shipped it back. Fail.
EIS Cool Shirt
I know this is a popular shirt, and for the price, I should love it, but I don't. The fit is fine and the fabric is nice and silky, but the first time I wore it, it stained across the front. And it's not like I bumped into anything greasy or weird. I just came home dirty. I washed the shirt as directed, pulled it out of the washer, and noticed a dark area across the front. Bummer. I paid $58 plus ten bucks in shipping. Had I paid $96, I would have been even more pissed about the lack of stain resistance. While it's nice, I won't be ordering another one. Passing grade.
Ariat® Polka Dot Sunstopper Shirt
I am only giving the Ariat a second place rating because it isn't as lovely feeling as the Kastel, but for the price, this is a really great shirt. It doesn't have that silky feeling that the Kastel and EIS shirts have, but it wears really well. The fabric is piqué, which felt a bit stiff initially, but it helps the shirt stand away from my skin slightly which allows a little better air flow. It's also less fitted than the Kastel or EIS, but only slightly so. I wore this shirt two days in a row before it started to even kind of look dirty. By the end of the second wearing, it was definitely dirty, but it washed up and looked brand new, unlike the EIS. The shirt retails for $54.95 at Dover, but I had a $20 gift card, so it was even cheaper. Made the Honor Roll.
Kastel Charlotte Signature UV Top/Shirt
Since I had already ridden in a Kastel, I knew I would love this shirt before it even arrived. I don't love the color, but I really wanted a Kastel and yellow was all that Riding Warehouse had in stock in my size. The next time I buy one, I will order from Dressage Extensions as they have the shirt in a ton of other colors. All of that aside, the fabric is so soft that you can hardly even feel the shirt against your skin. It has washed up well without staining, and while it was a bit pricey at $75 (free shipping), it was worth it. Top Honors!
All three shirts "worked" better than I expected them to. While they don't actually cool me off, no shirt can do that when it's over a hundred degrees, they do help me cope with the heat. I normally ride in sleeveless running shirts, but the flies drive me nuts, and the heat that reflects off our arena sand bakes me from below.
When I wear the sun shirts, I can't feel the flies, and I feel shaded from the heat that bounces off the sand. All three shirts have vents from the arm pit to the cuff. This allows a decent amount of air to come through the shirt which helps me dry off a bit.
If I stand in the shade and there is any kind of breeze, the shirts definitely feel as though they are lowering my body temperature. I am not sure how it works, but it is a lovely feeling.
I ordered all three shirts in a large even though I tend to wear a medium. If these were winter-wear shirts, a medium would be fine, but the thought of having my shirt be that close to me in the summer made me sweat just to think about it. And even though the shirts are a large, the fit was actually fine. They don't look baggy or sloppy, so if you normally fill up a medium, you might want to go up a size.
I probably won't buy another EIS shirt, but I am going to be keeping my eye out for sales on the Kastel and Ariat shirts. Those two shirts are definitely keepers.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: