Behind The Scenes - Equestrian Retail Trade Show Edition.

Behind The Scenes - Equestrian Retail Trade Show Edition.

I recently went to the winter 2023 equestrian trade show in Dallas. This semi-annual event is only open to preapproved retailers; it’s a huge thrill and an honor to be asked to attend on behalf of your store. This trade show is where the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers come together to look at new products, designs, and seasonal apparel upcoming for seasons ahead.

Did you know we order most of our seasonal and show apparel nearly a year before we receive it? It’s wild how much goes into getting a piece from the design phase to a real live sample product available for retailers to touch and see while planning what to order so far in advance!

Anyway, I woke up on Friday morning 90 minutes before my alarm was set to go off and was so excited I couldn’t stay in bed. I got ready, grabbed my bag, and boarded the first shuttle from the hotel to the venue.  I’m pretty sure I was there before most of the dealers most of the booths were closed and covered up, and a small few were in the process of getting ready for the day. I think I was just a little excited!

I took the extra time to walk around and get familiar with the layout and where new brands were that I wanted to see. Did I mention the venue is fifteen floors? Most other floors hosted other shows for nonequestrian goods like housewares, jewelry, home decor etc. Two floors were dedicated to all things equestrian. Each floor is roughly the size of two football fields. So getting the lay of the land was a smart move.

I really wanted to be able to come home with a behind-the-scenes look for you guys as well as info on new styles and brands we should bring into our stores, and I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed!

My first appointment of the day was with a small brand I’ve been seeing a lot about on social media. Their breeches were super cute, with lots of fun colors, crystals, and bling in a few different price points. They also had cruelty-free belts similar to other popular wide styles of belts we carry, but with the benefit of being a non-leather product, which set them apart from many of the other designers at the show. I took lots of pictures and some video for the store managers to review before finishing up.

As I was headed to my next appointment, the designer across the hall really caught my eye. Halter Ego, I’ve seen them on social media but had not seen their work up close. One word AMAZING. I’ve never seen such beautiful and original bridle work!

Primarily focused on dressage, the attention to detail was incredible on her bridles. No detail was left ignored, from rhinestones to piping, and leathers. These pieces were absolutely stunning.  For my jumper riders, Halter Ego also has a collection of beautiful, innovative bridles that can be customized in every way.

The quality of the leather is some of the nicest I have ever seen. So soft, and supple with tight stitching and crystal work that is sewn and glued into place to ensure a lifetime of use.

In addition to the bespoke bridles, they also had equally unique customized halters with piping and textures, saddle pads, matching brushing boots and a full line of breeches in both Full Seat and Knee Patch styles. The breeches had fun accents like crystals, embroidery as well as metallic threads. Plus, the cut of the breeches was very flattering. I couldn’t pick a favorite so the video is 8 minutes – comment which one you liked best!

The designer spent a lot of time working out the sizing and the fit so that no matter what body type you are, they will look amazing on you. Not going to lie, I might have left her set up a little obsessed with her entire collection. I ended up setting up an appointment for later in the day when they were less busy so that I could break out my phone and video of the entire collection for you guys. Yes, they sell the brow-bands individually, as well as matching spur straps. 

Click To See All The Bridles!

I then stopped by and quickly chatted with Ariat about upcoming new pieces rolling out this Spring. Including their beautiful new Ravello tall boots. This classic Italian-made tall boot from Ariat is swoon-worthy! More about that coming in another blog post! They’ve also released a new show shirt called the Ariat Luxe. If you show regularly in warm weather, you’re definitely going to want at least one of these shirts in your closet. Ariat is making a huge strategic move to design athlete-friendly apparel. You may recall last year, Ariat, introduced the Ascent line with specially placed fabric that prevented muscle fatigue and increased circulation to help with stamina.

The Ariat Luxe shirt continues in that vein by offering a highly breathable, moisture-wicking technical fabric that is both fashion-forward and stylish. Traditional white and periscope grey with a white front placket, both expertly tailored with an amazing lightweight fabric a touch heavier than air itself. I’m super excited about several new pieces from Ariat that you will surely hear more about these soon! 

From there, I stopped at EGO 7 for a quick visit, where we set up the live stream of the Contact boot on Instagram for the following day, grabbed a quick lunch and then headed over to an appointment with RJ Classics.

I’m a big fan of R.J. classics. This family-owned business offers an affordable and innovative line of show and schooling apparel that combines quality, and original styling at an affordable price point. For those who aren’t aware, the family started the business because their daughters ride. The daughters now run the company. Fun right?

These last few years, they have really focused on their show and schooling apparel for ladies and girls. You can see they’ve spent a lot of time in the design room and have really upped their game on schooling tops and schooling breech colors.

Their colors are always richly pigmented in fashionable and flattering hues. Riders of all ages love having multiple fit options with options available in nearly all offered colors. Parents and trainers love the kids breeches and jods for the classic styling and quality construction. I won’t say they are kid-proof but, they do hold up great wash after wash, no matter what the pony jockeys get into after they finish riding for the day.

The training shirts are really special; my personal favorite is the Ella. Beautifully tailored, long sleeve fabric that offers SPF sun coverage and cooling technology paired with a quarter zip, and a contrasting print on the mesh on the back and along the bottom of the sleeves. These shirts are fun and flattering without being boring or overly loud. Your going to love this summers colors and we can’t wait for the fall shades! 

How is this day going by so fast! After RJ I’m on the run to English Riding Supply to spy some new helmet styles they are rolling out for the One K and the Ovation lines. The customizations on the One K helmets have really come a long way! I was also able to get a sneak peek at apparel from Romfh and Mountain Horse for Fall 23, and they have some really fun pieces. If you play the matchy-matchy game with your tack and apparel, you’re going to LOVE some of the new lines they’ve got coming this Autumn.

I ended my day over at Equifit getting a good look at the new polo wraps they are adding to their Equifit Essentials collection. These polo wraps are high quality, super plush and designed to last! Up until about 5 years ago, I never used boots, just polo wraps. I LOVED the weight and feel of this bandage in my hand and the wide hook and loop fastener at the end of the wrap feels very substantial and like it will hold up for the long haul.

What a day! I’ve logged nearly 20,000 steps on my Fitbit today, and the day is coming to a close. Vendors are starting to close up and we are all headed back to our hotels for the evening. Can you believe all the manufacturers, designers and products I’ve seen? These shows are always so fast paced, it’s hard to find time to explore booths off the beaten path from the major brands.

I find some friends and we head out to locate our Uber. I’ve collected so many catalogs and samples that the poor Uber driver things I’ve got someone sitting on my lap! Good thing I brought my ‘kitchen sink’ back pack for this trip! We are headed to a fabulous restaurant called the Meddlesome Moth. It’s always fun end the day catching up with friends in the industry, and trading notes about the different vendors we all spoke with. This is a great time to find out small vendors attending for the first time with new products that haven’t been seen before.

I’m planning an early night, tomorrow is another long day that ends with a trip to the Dickies Arena at the Fort Worth Stock Yard with some friends from Ariat!

Saturday morning arrives, and I’m ready for more! I grab a Coke Zero ( my morning caffeine of choice!) and head out to the shuttle. Today I have appointments with Samshield ( SQUEEEE!), Kerrits ( NGL, I love my Kerrits breeches & sun shirts for schooling at home ), then on to an IG live with Ego 7 to showcase all the features of the Contact boots and answer everyone’s questions. After that I’m off to 16 Cypress – (new brand alert), Shires, Weatherbeeta/Dublin, and a quick run-through of Toklat and German Equestrian aka GEM. GEM imports Sprenger, Cavallo, Passier, and our favorite leather care Effax!

Again I’m super early to the venue and meet up with some friends for a short visit before bouncing over to Samshields set up. Too much caffeine? Maybe? Is that even a thing? Samshields collection is absolutely STUNNING. The designers have integrated an organic branch and leaf pattern into some upcoming pieces as well as new crystal designs. The upcoming collection we see Samshield move away from rosegold accents and become all things champagne where details are concerned. It’s truely a show stopping collection.

I am OBSESSED with the embroidered branch details with champagne crystal leaf design in this collection! They’ve also introduced some new crystal colors and of course seasonal breech colors. I love all the colors and simply can’t pick a favorite in the breeches! The shirts on the other hand. The show shirt collection is of course, outstanding, if you can dream it, they can make it happen!  I love the fabrics, they are so silky soft, and lightweight the mesh panels are the perfect balance of breathable but not seethrough. My favorites of this collection are the crystal zipper trim and the new shirt with the branch pattern. This shirt feels so lightweight it feels like you are holding a breath of air and the pattern is very feminine.

For winter wear, the Samshield Courcheval puffy jacket comes back for next winter and the charmonix puffy vest, sporting traditional black logo crystal accent or champagne logo crystal accenting and zipper details. Your favorite winter beanies and headbands also return for next winter.

I can spend all day looking at the Samshield collection, but I need to get a move on before I’m late, so I will shoot some video for you guys, and head on to the next appointment.

Kerrits always has an amazing setup at the trade shows, they used to run an amazing fashion show complete with a runway, and models the whole 9 yards.  Unfortunately, the venue in Dallas has a low ceiling, so they cannot bring the fashion show on the road at this venue.  No worries, on models or presented by hand, their collection is always full of fun details showing that riders designed these pieces.  Next season’s collection is no exception.

Kerrits always has fun color stories every season. Each piece they create ties into an entire collection of pieces making it simple to put together a good-looking riding outfit of the day that can go from the barn to the school pick-up line and beyond seamlessly. The upcoming colors for fall play into beautiful hues of Ink, Huckleberry, Sangria and Leather. All in thoughtful warm shades for cooler weather.

New to the line will be updated long sleeve tops with built in breathability so you don’t sweat and catch a chill on those cold days where you need to layer up. My favorite pieces were of course the fleece quarter zips. Two new prints for the season are Snaffle Harmony, this print tells a story in warm fall tones of falling  leaves and snaffle bits. The second pattern they are offering is Starlight which has a very mosaic feel to it which plays beautifully into the collection. Not a fan of prints, they’ve got solids too!

Kerrits also offers a half zip – perfect for being able to get off over your helmet on those days that warm up quick. The print is called Muzzle Nuzzle and it’s a super soft mid weight piece in a playful open houndstooth type print with galloping horses woven into the pattern.

One of the more interesting pieces for fall was the lucky bits tonal print on their soft shell rain coat. The fleece lining is perfect for those damp drizzly days where you need to keep the horses fit but don’t want to be cold and miserable either. Lots of features on this one, including a split tail to cover your tack while you ride and give you some freedom of movement. Double zipper and loads of pockets for treats, your phone, all of your essentials.

There were so many nice pieces for Kerrits, I can probably go on for an hour but I’ve just highlighted a few of my favorites so I don’t bore you guys to death.

After lunch, I head to Ego 7 to do an IG live on their highly anticipated Contact boots.
I’m super excited about these. If you follow us on social or if you’re on our email list you already know how innovative these new boots are!  Here’s a link to the whole clip on Youtube. 

After the live I’m off to an appointment with a new brand I’m hearing a lot about. 16 Cypress, I’ve passed by a few times, and I’m excited to get into her space and take a look at all of the fun pieces she has on display!

I’m absolutely obsessed with the leatherette trim 16 Cypress uses to trim her designs. I love the bucket grooming tote, it has a waxed cotton feel with leatherette trim and has a very “British Countryside” feel to it.  16 Cypress pulls classic patterns into new styles for her saddle pads, super nice quality all around. Their insulated barn tote is perfect for keeping beverages cold on long days at the barn. I can’t wait to show these pieces to the ladies at home!

I’m running out of time and there is still so much I want to see! I did a quick blast through what Shires is bring out this season, They’ve got an innovative new set of horse boots that are vented and highly breathable while still being protective of your horses legs. Great for those hot summer work outs. I’m off to Weatherbeeta for a tour of this falls blankets and Dublin boots.

Weatherbeeta blankets have a fabulous reputation for being sturdy, well made and good looking. One of my favorite concepts that Weatherbeeta embraces is the PONY BLANKET. Most manufacturers think a pony is just a small horse. Although the blanket is the right size to fit ponies, the drop length on most of todays blankets has been ridiculous. (Repeat after me… ponies are not small horses and do not need blankets that drop down to their knees!! )

Weatherbeeta has been making blankets for several decades and they have the cut and fit of pony blankets down to a science. It’s refreshing to see a line of blankets that are appropriately cut for a ponies smaller stature.

Weatherbeeta has exciting new features for all of their blankets, including several eco friendly styles that are made with fabric that uses recycled water bottles. Their blankets include all the features we love like snap front closures, shoulder darts and fleece trim at friction points to avoid blanket rubs. Their neck covers even have a snuggly touch of fleece at the top to help keep the wind and element from blowing through the blankets.

The Weatherbeeta Saxon, a 600 denier economy line, these styles offer an old school American cut. – shorter drop length, buckle fronts, combined with features you see on higher end blankets, like tail flaps and hardware for crossing leg straps. They’ve got a fun print this year that I think is perfect for all my grey horse owners out there. It’s baby blue covered in a fun pattern of pigs rolling in mud puddles! – Unfortunately this pattern only comes in pony sizes.

These will probably start arriving in September, hard to believe it’s January and we are already ordering next seasons blankets!

Where did this day go? I’m headed down stairs for one last appointment, but first I’ve heard a lot about a small vendor who has this amazing saddle cleaner and conditioner. I’m intrigued so I hunt around until I find it. I’m a tack conditioner junkie, maybe it’s my USPC roots, but I’m always looking for super tack cleaner and conditioners. Tack Butter is everything I’ve heard and more. This stuff is hand made in small batches,  smells pleasant, goes on smooth and is absorbed quickly. – I’m in love!  The samples make old dry leather look and feel amazing. I’m gifted a ton of samples to bring back and I can’t wait to get this on Oliver’s Amerigo and Secret’s bridle, they are both at the top of my list for a deep condition.

I have just enough time to take a quick look at Cavallo’s Winter pieces for next year with German Equestrian before they close the market center for the day. Have a I really been here for two days already?  I’m a big Cavallo fan, their pieces have just enough crystals to be fun with out being loud, the price point is perfect and they offer a wide variety of styles to fit most body types. Something for everybody for sure. I’m hooked on the puffy vests for next season, they are thoughtfully designed and have functional pockets. I also love all the fleece lined base layers and quarter zips.

And that wraps up day two at the trade show, back to the hotel for a quick shower and then off to the Stock Yard for a fun evening in Fort Worth with some friends at Ariat. I wish I could spend one more day but, there’s so much I didn’t get to see. But,  I’m already behind at my desk and I know our followers can’t wait to see all the fun things on the horizon. 
The next show is late summer, so until then, that wraps up my visit to the Winter trade show. 

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1 comment

Love this! I’m ready to get one of those Halter Ego dressage bridles! When will you have them in stock?

Wynne Smith

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