CR Ranchwear: Dressed up in a Flash

Amy Skinner is a talented horsewoman and frequent guest columnist. Here, she reviews an exclusive CR Ranchwear shirt. Read more about these Texas-made shirts here.

Read Maddy Butcher’s review here.

By Amy Skinner

I had to go to a function recently where folks were dressing up some.  I’m a boots-and-jeans kinda gal, and when I dress up I often feel like I’m in costume.

I cleaned up alright, but I really wanted to feel like myself. Just a little less dirty. I like clothes that are functional, but attractive, well-made, and durable. On this particular night, I washed and dried my hair, put on mascara and lipstick, and wore a pair of clean jeans, some nice boots, and a CR Ranchwear western shirt.

Tada!

Instant classy look, all without having to readjust anything, pull anything up or down, sit with my legs crossed, or feel uncomfortable.  I got plenty of compliments on my gorgeous shirt, and didn’t feel under-dressed at all.

The CR Tradition western shirt in Ocean Blue Paisley Swirl is a gorgeous addition to my wardrobe and transforms me instantly from “working cowgirl” to “dressed-up cowgirl.”

The shirt’s cut is lovely and fits my body.  It’s very flattering, accentuating all the right places, and has a streamlined appearance.  It’s classy and dresses up any nice pair of jeans and boots.

Made with 100 percent cotton, this shirt is comfortable, breathable, and very durable.  I’m not going to worry about it if I have to run down to the barn for something even while in my “going-out cowgirl” outfit, although I wouldn’t stay to clean stalls in it.

Another benefit, this shirt is made in the USA!  This style is a classic and looks equally great in the arena or out on the town.

The price tag may be a bit high, but in my opinion it’s well worth it.  These shirts were built to last.  Like most folks who work hard for their cash flow, I feel irritated when I spend good money on poor quality materials that don’t stand up to real life.

Another pet peeve of mine is women’s clothes that are made poorly, don’t fit real women’s bodies, and cost more than men’s.

These CR Ranchwear shirts pass my checkpoints before laying out a little more dough for clothes:

  • Is it well made and durable?
  • Does it do its job?
  • Does it look good on me?

Check. Check. Check!

Amy and her dance pardner.

Lady Bits & Riding: Intrepid Sports Bra Review

We talked with Title Nine’s Molly Hanks about the company’s promotion of athletic women and good gear to help them get out and be fit. “Sports bras help women be fit, active, and strong. For some larger chested women, if you don’t have a good sports bra, you might not do sports at all. It can literally be life-changing,” said Hanks.

Guest columnist Emily Luciano reviewed the Intrepid sports bra. Luciano is on the Steering Committee for the Best Horse Practices Summit.

Luciano writes:

Where has this bra been all my life?

It takes a lot to impress me in the bra department. As a larger chested gal, I value more than just support. I also want the right amount of coverage, separation (no uniboob for me!), and comfort.

For the longest time, I felt like I could find a bra that only met some of my needs. Perhaps it was supportive and comfortable, but left me with the dreaded uniboob. Or, maybe it looked great and was comfortable, but left me bouncing my way down the trail. My girls and I have been let down a number of times.

When I got the opportunity to test drive three sports bras from Title Nine, I jumped at the chance! I’m generally hard to fit in the bra department, and I was thrilled when I didn’t have to make concessions for my size. Not just everyone carries a 32DD, but Title Nine has multiple styles.

The first bra I test drove was the Intrepid Underwire Bra, which they give 5/6 barbells on the Title Nine support scale. Say what you will about underwire bras, but I don’t feel like I get enough support without it and absolutely prefer all my bras—even my sports bras— to have underwire.

I wore this bra from the moment I woke up to the moment I stripped down to shower before bed, and I L-O-V-E-D it. I walked the dogs, gardened, rode horses, and did a mixed martial arts workout (kicking, punching and jumping) while wearing it. I not only felt comfortable and supported, but I loved how it looked like a regular bra under my clothes— no uniboob. It was exactly my size.

One of my favorite things about this bra is that it has a racerback option; all you have to do is hook the clasp on the straps to convert it to an even more supportive version of itself. Easy! I chose to hook the clasp when I rode and when I was working out. The girls didn’t budge!

In the Intrepid description on the Title Nine website, says it features “an anti-microbial finish to keeps the Intrepid smelling like new.” Before the Intrepid came into my life, my favorite sports bra was a Victoria’s Secret number that required washing after every other sweat session. For someone who works out six days a week and is doing daily farm chores in the sweltering Florida heat, that means I was washing that bra A LOT. I’ve now sweated in my Intrepid three times since the initial test drive and it still smells just fine.

The Interprid surpassed all my expectations, and hit all my requirements (coverage, comfort, separation, and support).

Got used bras you’re not using? Consider donating them to Support the Girls.

Must I take off these Boulet Boots?

Dr. Steve Peters, a Best Horse Practices Summit presenter and collaborator in the new site Horse Head, reviews a pair of Boulet boots. The boots were handmade in Saint Tite, Quebec. Read more about Boulet here.

He writes:

Last month, I opened the box containing my first ever pair of Boulet boots, Grizzly Mountain Packers. I’d known about this family-owned Canadian boot maker for years, but being rigid in my choice of boot makers meant I’d gone with what I’d known time and again. I’d also never worn a pair of lace-ups. I guess I thought packers just weren’t for me.

Taking them out of the box, I saw that the leather was high quality, soft and pliant.  Could such a beautiful boot hold up to what I planned to put them through? They felt just a tad snug initially, but simply walking around the house helped form them to my feet.

While my usual buckaroo boots feel very loose around my skinny calves, these packers gave me the feeling of a hightop athletic shoe. They would turn out to provide great ankle support.

My goal was to try my best to get a blister or two and find the weaknesses in these new boots.  I stepped outside to slosh through mud, feed the horses, and followed that with a long hike with the dogs.  In southwestern Colorado, a hike can involve snow, mud, rocky ridges, and scrambling over boulders. Unlike my slick, leather-bottomed cowboy boots, these boots have an acid-resistant, rubber sole that gave me good traction climbing over rocks.

The next day, I laced them on first thing. After horse chores, I staffed a booth at a local trade show (lots of standing). I also did quite a bit of walking around the town of Durango. These boots felt very well-cushioned with an insole that kept my feet dry.

After more hiking and time horseback, I took them off only before crawling into bed. My socks were dry and had a nice aroma. The boots actually have been treated with a sanitized deodorant.

The next day was horseback. The rounded toe helped me to find my stirrups and the horseman’s heel is what I like.  We ponied a group of horses to a pasture and unsaddled our rides.

Another long hike with rock scrambling and I noticed that these packers were even more comfortable than my hiking boots. I’ve been bucked off and left some distance from home in the past, enduring the Walk of Shame in uncomfortable cowboy boots. At least my feet would be happy, if it happened in these Boulets.

When night falls, I usually change into well-worn moccasins to read and relax. But my packers were still feeling good.  The leather had formed to my foot and held up to all the punishment I could dish out. I still could not get a blister no matter how I’d tried.

Despite snow and mud over several days, these boots looked as good as they did coming out of the box.  Boulet’s reputation is impressive, but I was nonetheless astounded by their durability and comfort.  At 59 years old, I can’t believe that I have gone this long without trying a pair. When I spend a week packing in the Weminuche Wilderness, these Grizzly Mountain Packers will be on my feet.

Horse Time Cherished and Your Brain as a Puppy

Trish Lemke is an equine-guided coaching specialist. Her business, Joy Rides, is based in Durango, Colorado. She hosts trips to Ireland, Costa Rica, Italy, and elsewhere.

Lemke writes:

It seems that we are all living with quite a bit of uncertainty right now.   And a lot of people I talk with are carrying this uncertainty around with them. They get stuck in those heavy emotions of worry, fear, dread and doubt and cause themselves suffering and constant angst.  They are giving away their present life with worries about their future life.

But life never has been certain.  We don’t know how our future is going to unfold from one moment to the next. That is why I love the practice of mindfulness.  It helps me cope with the fear of uncertainty.  

What is certain at this moment?  

  • Are you safe, fed, housed, loved, right now? Today?  
  • Are your kids happy and healthy?  Are you?  

If the answer is “yes” to those questions, then simply sitting in gratitude for a few moments will help to make that major shift from the “what-if?” anxiety of the future to the truth of the here and now.  

Animals, nature and being with my family are the quickest ways for me to come to my present moment truth. But this mindfulness stuff is a practice of training your brain, because even after sitting in gratitude and awareness, your brain may want to take you back to the stress and worry.

Don’t let it!  

You are the boss of your brain, not the other way around.  Treat it as gently and as firmly as you would treat a puppy that you are training.  A nice dialogue to have would be:

“Brain, I understand your desire to keep me safe and be in your comfort zone with the stress and worry, but you need to stay where I put you, with thoughts that are true and that make me happy.”

This was one of the biggest pieces of learning that I received several years ago in my training and it really has helped me stay a lot more balanced and happy.  You CAN follow the thoughts that make you happy.  So simple, yet so true.  

Lady Bits: Infections & Incontinence

As athletes who are often spending hours and hours in the saddle, there are several Lady Bits issues that crop up for us. Incontinence, yeast infections, sweaty rashes, pubic pain are problems faced by us riders. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, for instance, are common and can be treated through prevention as well as drugs.

Read more about two women riders who had problems and then found solutions.

Itchy Prevention:

Breathability is key! Many riders suggest wearing cotton underwear and changing out of sweaty undies as expeditiously as possible. Consider wearing loose, breathable clothing when not in the saddle. Try sleeping without underwear and/or pajamas.

Cutting back on sugar in diet is often recommended for women prone to yeast infections. We know, for example, that women at risk for diabetes tend to get more yeast infections.

Itchy Treatment:

Many issues can be treated with over-the-counter medications. However, if you are experiencing your first infection, you may not know what it is. Knowledge first, then treatment! Jock itch, for instance, requires different treatment than a vaginosis. Consult a doctor.

Incontinence:

Older women or those who have had multiple births may struggle with incontinence. It’s an issue that can sometimes be alleviated with physical therapy.

Check out this video on the correct physical therapy approach to Kegel exercises and this one for incontinence.

Here is a helpful article on preventing and treating incontinence.

Here’s a Colorado State University article on vagina-related facts.

Coming soon: We review sports bras from Title Nine.

Lady Bits: Undies & Oww-ies

Several women shared their Lady Bits & Riding experiences. Thank you and keep ’em coming! Contact us here if you’d like to share.

Writes a rider from Colorado:

What a great subject! At age 50, I’m fairly new to riding. I have an Arabian mare and am studying reining and ranch versatility with a trainer. In my short adult riding career, one interesting Lady Bits moment to share in hopes of helping others: I rather suddenly developed a small, very tender spot on the vulva (the area immediately external to the vagina). It ached all the time. I knew it wasn’t a cyst (which I’d gotten in the same place from cycling, years ago).

I went to gynecologist and it turns out that I’d grown a skin tag, which she removed with a bit of anesthetic. Her recommendation was to choose underwear wisely: anything with a thick edge to it, or a thong, because of its narrowness, can move around while riding and rub. The friction can cause an irritation.

Now, I wear a ‘boy short’ which puts the elasticized leg edge well away from anything tender and doesn’t have bulky seams. I’ve had no further problems.

Writes another rider from North Carolina:

I wear boy shorts or athletic undies to ride in. I never go commando (no undies at all). I tried that once and my crotch hurt for about a week. I always always wear cotton undies which can be unbelievably hard to find. Also, when riding all day, I often change socks and undies at lunchtime.

CR RanchWear Shirts Shine

I was skeptical when I first visited with CR Ranch Wear about their shirts. Yes, they’re made in America. Yes, they’re beautiful. Yes, they fit exponentially better than your average shirt.

But will a shirt change my day?

Will it change how people consider me?

Will it change how I consider myself?

Turns out, a nice shirt does makes all the difference. Read more about CR RanchWear here.

CR shirts are especially made for women performing with their horses in competitions. Gals select specific shirts to match their horse and their horse’s tack. Ashley Flynn, for instance, looks spiffy in this rich blue CR shirt and her dark horse, Smooth Sailing Cat. (see photo at right)

I’m not much for shows and competitions, but I did wear my CR shirts to the Four States Agriculture Expo where NickerNews and BestHorsePractices staffed a booth for three days.

I’m used to these events and have a reliable sense of booth reactions and interactions. You only have a few seconds to make a good impression and pique people’s interest. That job was made infinitely easy with CR’s stylish shirts.

I had scores of conversations and I’d guess most of them were initiated because visitors noticed the shirt first (and, no, it wasn’t because of any big chest under the shirt. That doesn’t exist.)

I wore a brown and white striped CR Tradition shirt with contrasting collar and cuffs, made of Italian cotton, on Day One and a CR Tradition of an exclusive Tropical Green weave on Day Two. Both were size Small (Most CR shirts come in six sizes, from XXS to XL)

See photos below for Before and After images.

CR RanchWear shirts are not shirts to wear doing barn chores. They are well-made, colorful performance shirts and made for your A Game. They can take the place of that drab blazer and striped tee shirt combo you’ve been sporting for, well, forever. They take the place of that stiff blouse and cardigan ensemble.

Concerned that it’s just one layer? If you must, wear a thermal camisole or tank top  underneath. But try not to cover up these shirts. They weren’t made for that.

Fun and Easy Trekking with GAIA

Of all the phone application options for trail and backcountry riders, the map app, GAIA GPS, has been the most referenced by horse riders I meet. They love it and use it religiously for their afternoon or weeklong adventures.

GAIA (according to Greek mythology, Gaia is Earth personified as a goddess) is a map app with which you can track, log your route, and follow a waypoint, all without using cellular data. GAIA simply uses with the GPS chip in your phone.

Cellular data use is problematic on a few fronts:

— it’s expensive

— it’s often not available when you most need it, like when riding in the backcountry.

GAIA solves both issues, as long as you have “Location Services” in your settings enabled for the app.

There are just a few things that are essential to remember when using GAIA:

  • Be prepared and download those maps of country where you’ll traveling in advance and when you have a wifi connection.
  • At the very least, get comfortable reading topographic maps and traveling by compass direction. When traveling in the backcountry, no app will save you. But having some basic Boy Scout skills will.
  • At the very least, spend time with GAIA to familiarize yourself with its many excellent features. This is not like using texting or the camera. It may take some exploring and experimenting to fully use and take advantage of it.

Check out these helpful features on using GAIA from Bikepacking and an Adventure blog.

Here’s a feature on map reading with a tutorial on how to read a topographical map.

The GAIA Pro version offers new elements of customization and functionality. If you’d like to try it, GAIA is offering our readers a FREE one-year subscription of GAIA PRO. To learn more, email support@gaiagps.com and mention NickerNews or ColoradoOutsider.

Happy Trails!

Horseman Peter Campbell Dies

The horsemanship world gave a collective gasp last week as it lost one of its own. Peter Campbell, an accomplished horseman from Alberta, Canada, who sought out Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance and honed his expertise at several large ranch operations before eventually settling in Wheatland, Wyoming, died suddenly last week. He was 52 and had been traveling from a recent clinic in Kentucky.

Campbell died of a self-inflicted injury along the highway near Vonore, Tennessee, confirmed Vonore Police Chief Randy Kirkland. He leaves behind his wife, horsewoman Trina Campbell.

Thousands of friends and fans remembered him as one who helped riders and horses make enormous strides where others had failed. He was generously and uniformly praised for his excellence and for his advocacy of the vaquero method of training.

Campbell traveled internationally as a clinician, has been featured in numerous horsemanship magazines, competed at the Buck Brannaman Pro Am Roping event, authored the book “Willing Partners,” and had an instructional DVD series. There will be a memorial service for Campbell at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, on April 15, 2-5 pm in the Van Horn ballroom.

Campbell follower Elizabeth David, of Cheboygan, Michigan, wrote this remembrance:

“Not for me, for him, for the horse.”

Peter could always make a profound change in a horse, but he also made profound changes in people. Using the same feel that made him an artist on horseback, he would set up an idea and let people seek it, find it.

Never did he discourage a try, taking his time where he could, adding some pressure only where it was needed. He taught people to seek, to learn, to feel. To come together and help each other to get the job done. Peter Campbell was a creator of true horsemen and horsewomen. That was his gift to us, to the horse.

Photo by Kent Reeves

The Return of Wild West Journalism

You might think we journalists struggle more than other folks when accusations of “fake news” and “alternative facts” splash across our virtual desktops.

That’s because the attack is not just on liberal news outlets but on media and the propagation of information in general. It’s an attack on journalism’s basic mission to fairly inform readers.

I may be a reporter but I’m also a reader. And when university research shows that most people think that we journalists are actually enemies of the state, well, let’s just say I can take a hint. (For those of you who are so darn persnickety about sources, I’m referring to the recent Suffolk University poll which shows that two-thirds of Fox News watchers believe that mainstream media is the enemy of the people.),

I’ve seen a lawyer! I’ve seen the light!

Party line! Party on!

Wild West journalism is so much more fun anyway. Remember when frontier reports promised water and farmland aplenty to any Easterner with an ear to bend? Remember when reports of “Gold in Them Thar Hills” was the real, honest-to-god headline on news stands?

Author Timothy Snyder reminded me of Wild West journalism in a recent interview. He said:

“In the descent from a world of factual discourse into a world of emotions and alternative realities, the first step you take… [is to] manufacture lots of stuff that isn’t true. The second step is that you claim that everyone is like this. You spread this kind of cynicism that you shouldn’t really trust anybody…Once that belief spreads we’re then in the world …which is ripe for fascism.”

His book is called “On Tyranny” and he teaches at Yale. But the guy lacks a sense of humor, don’t you think?

We need writers and reporters who are more easy-going and have better senses of humor. More and more, I look at my old journalism life and laugh.

I remember, for example, reporting on a large, intense animal cruelty case. Thanks to the coverage, the animal welfare officials investigated. Thanks to the coverage, the county District Attorney prosecuted. Scores of horses, goats, pigs, and other animals were removed from the abusers’ possession and the couple in question was convicted.

Not surprisingly, these folks did not appreciate the coverage and called it untrue and “fake news.”

I see their point of view now. More and more, the truth is just so much trouble. More and more, I prefer the news to reflect my social media newsfeed: sound bites and images that affirm my beliefs. No questioning or contrariness please. Embracing an ideology of doubt? No thanks!

When I was a young mom, I used to love meal times with my three sons. It was a time to bounce around ideas. I tried to extoll the French essayist Joseph Joubert: “The aim of an argument or discussion should be not victory but progress.”

Back then, I said.

— If we only listen to the news that makes us feel good, how do we grow?

— If journalists only write about approved topics with supportive bias, how is the reader (and therefore the greater society) helped?

— If we are not encouraged to ask questions, think critically, and occasionally argue, what’s the point of having a thinking brain and living in a community?

Back then, I thought that as reporters and readers we should be encouraged to dig deep, look for the sources’ angles, and weigh alternative points of view. We should be aware of conflicts of interests and ulterior motives. Abusers, people with something to hide, vested parties all routinely blame the messengers, I thought.

Around the dinner table and around the newsroom, I thought transparency and objectivity were good things. Discourse and shining the mirror back on ourselves? All good!

Now, thankfully, I’ve been liberated from the fray. If I was back at the table with my boys and they said something like “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me” I would scold them for not thinking about the math. You know – If A = B and B = C, then A = C. C’mon folks, learn it with me!

Discussion is Argument.

Argument is Verbal Combat.

Verbal Combat is Combat.

Combat is War.

War is bad.

We need more love in this world!

Some folks might say I’m slipping from Synder’s “fact-based discourse into an alternative reality promulgated mostly by emotions.”

But love is emotions, right? And even journalists want to be loved.

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