I’m going to take you all on a trip back in time for a moment. Back to horse shows when wool coats were the norm and we almost died of heatstroke each weekend. Maybe it would be extra hot and the stewards would wave coats for the day… but more than likely you’d look hopefully at your trainer only to have your heart sink when they said “No way, you’re showing in your coat no matter what… I don’t care if it's 98° and rising!” So you’d don your gorgeous albeit stuffy Grand Prix Show Coat and good ole’ velvet finished helmet and off you’d go for the day! I don’t know about you but I may have just had a small moment of PTSD from that flashback.
(I had to dig in the archives for this one... my and my first pony, Stormy at one of our first shows! Featuring my boxy wool coat and my velvet helmet! #styleicon)
Horse show fashion has definitely come a long way since then and classic wool coats eventually transitioned into lighter tech lite materials and most recently mesh fabric. Yes, you heard that right, mesh… and no it's not as scary as you think. In this post, I’m going to dive into why mesh coats are becoming so popular, the different styles and price points, and how to choose the right one for you.
When Alessandro Albanese first introduced the MotionLite Jacket a few years ago it was almost as if a divide was created. You either loved them or adamantly HATED them! And even if you loved them, your trainer may have told you a big fat no. So what is so great about them and why are some people opposed to them?
Way cooler than a traditional show coat- The biggest upside to a mesh coat is that they are way more breathable which helps keep you cool during hot horse shows. The ultra-thin perforated fabric allows for more airflow so you can have a breezy ride.
Lightweight- They are also less heavy than other coats. This helps keep you cooler and they are easier to transport.
More comfortable- The mesh fabric is stretchy so the coats are less restrictive than other options. You can move in them easier and have a better range of motion while you’re in the saddle. They are less structured and fit a variety of body types. They are especially helpful for children that are in between sizes or feel suffocated in a more structured option.
Non-traditional- One of the biggest reasons why people aren’t fans of mesh coats is that they are less traditional than other coats. The mesh design is very modern and to some, gives a less polished look in the show ring. Horse people are very slow to embrace changes sometimes… remember the pushback when wrap collars were first introduced? I was one of the naysayers that said they would NEVER wear a wrap collar… and now I can’t imagine how we lived without them. I’ll admit, I’m even still a little hesitant on the whole mesh thing, but the ones I have put on are incredibly comfy and lightweight and I can see would be nice for the hot NC summers.
Unstructured- Another way that these coats are less traditional is that the design of them is very unstructured. This can be good and bad. They look and fit fantastic on a lot of people but don’t give that built-in silhouette you would get with a coat that has more substance to it. These coats are also a bit see-through when you’re up close and personal with them. While you can’t tell farther away, some people don’t like the look of it.
But not all mesh show coats are created equally! There are many different styles out there so you can find the best one for you. Some are more structured, some are made with finer mesh, and some are designed for maximum airflow. Whatever you’re looking for there is a mesh show coat to fit your style and budget. So here is a list of some of our favorites!
The OG of mesh coats, the AA Motionlite by Horseware was one of the very first to enter the scene and set the standard for all the coats to follow. This coat is composed completely of unlined mesh fabric and is highly breathable. The mesh on the Motionlite is fairly see-through up close but not noticeable far away. Is suitable for hunters and jumpers but has more of a jumper look to it. Comes with a removable pin and changeable buttons for a more discrete look in the hunter ring.
This mesh coat is the perfect mix of modern technology and traditional style. If your trainer is hesitant about mesh coats, show them this one! The front of the jacket has solid panels for a classic look, but then the sleeves and back are mesh. So you get great airflow from the mesh portion while still presenting a professional style. The Harmony is available from sizes 00-16 in Short, Regular, and Long lengths, as well as girl’s sizes. Also, take a peek at the Melody and Rhapsody for jumper and hunter derby classes.
The Florida is a top coat for top competitors. It is unlined but with slight shoulder pads and more structure to help define a silhouette. The mesh is so finely perforated that even up close it does not scream “mesh” but still offers great breathability. Small Swarovski crystals adorn the back of the collar to add a little extra sparkle to your outfit.
Get the Italian style factor with all the benefits of a lightweight coat. The Lipis has a more solid front for a crisp look, while the sleeves are a thin mesh. This coat has a 3-button front and can be worn in all the rings.
Vestrum is a new and upcoming brand on the circuit that is quickly wowing riders all over the world. This jacket is great for riders with shorter torsos as it is cut in that shorter Italian silhouette. The mesh is fine so gives the illusion of a traditional style coat. A hidden zipper keeps the jacket from bulging to a minimum for that seamless look in the show ring.
Whether you are on the mesh coat bandwagon or not, they seem to be sticking around on the horse show circuit! All our favorite brands keep popping up with their take on the trend and are making them better and better each time. So try some on and let us know your favorite!
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