Fall and spring are beautiful seasons, but with cool mornings and warm afternoons, equestrians struggle with finding appropriate clothing that adjusts with the weather. Modern technology has created fabrics that protect rider’s skin from the sun, keep them warm in the morning, and wick away sweat as the afternoon heats up. Do these shirts perform as well as advertised? I wanted to find out
Cotton is death fabric and should be avoided during transition seasons. As you warm up and sweat, cotton holds in moisture, giving you a chill. In extremely cold temperatures (which are coming right after fall!) this can cause hypothermia. The best fall riding shirts are those that wick moisture away from the skin.
I put five equestrian shirts to the test – Dublin Airflow, Horze Trista, Tuffrider Sport Shirt, Ariat Sunstopper and Kerrits IceFil. I wore each of these shirts for a full day, starting in the cool Tucson, Arizona morning all the way through the extreme heat of the afternoon. For best comparison, I chose the same style in each brand – a long sleeved polo shirt – and bought them all in a size Medium. I am 5’7” and 135 pounds and all these shirts fit true to size. Each shirt performed differently, and I have ranked them below.
#5 Horze Trista
Horze Trista was the most disappointing shirt that I tried.
Pros: I bought this shirt in Flamingo Pink and the bright coral color was very flattering with my skin tone and hair color. I love the variety of bright colors available. The stitching is tight and the fabric is nice quality. It dried quickly when I got wet scrubbing my trough. I have rather long arms and the sleeves were long enough to cover my wrists even when lifting my hands above my head. It is sized in ladies’ dress sizes rather than small-medium-large, so you have more options for finding your perfect fit. I bought this in a size 8 and it fit like the mediums I purchased in the other brands.
Cons: This shirt’s sleeves have a four-inch cuff that is rather tight, so I couldn’t push them up. The shirt was long enough, but the cut made it ride up to my waistband, which I find rather obnoxious. I prefer a shirt that stays near my hips. Where this one really failed was in moisture wicking. I was sweltering before I left my air-conditioned house and it was even worse outside. I felt trapped in a swamp. This is definitely a shirt for very cold weather and not a fall shirt.
Price: Under $40. Buy it here
#4 Kerrits IceFil
Kerrits IceFil was the most expensive shirt I purchased, and it was definitely not worth the money.
Pros: The fabric is lightweight and feels comfortable against my skin. UPF 30+ protected me from Arizona’s harsh afternoon sunlight. I bought this in Dapple gray but it is available in a variety of prints that hide dirt and several other flattering solid colors.
Cons: The first time I washed this according to manufacturer instructions the stitching completely unraveled from both cuffs so I had to get out my sewing machine to repair it. The fit is looser than I prefer. This shirt won’t wick away sweat unless it is touching your skin, so the loose fit defeats the purpose. I never felt like I was sweltering because the fit was so loose, but I did feel uncomfortably soaked in sweat.
Price: Over $60. Buy it here.
#3 Tuffrider Sport Shirt
The Tuffrider Sport Shirt was a pleasant surprise. Although it wasn’t my favorite, this one was a good purchase.
Pros: I was hesitant to purchase a white shirt because they can be quite sheer and leave very little to the imagination, but this one was thicker than expected. I wore a bright orange sports bra under it and even in bright light this shirt hid the color of my bra completely. The quality is good and the fabric seems to be dust repellant because even after a long day out in the Arizona sand it was still bright white other than a few smudges. The white really reflects the sunlight and I sweated very little under it. It was comfortable even during the heat of the afternoon. It washed beautifully in cold water and after wearing it several more times it is just as bright white as new. Tuffrider also sells this shirt in gray with neon trim.
Cons: The loose fit isn’t my favorite style, and this shirt does not wick moisture away from the skin.
Price: Under $40. Buy the white version here or the gray version here.
#2 Ariat Sunstopper
Ariat is one of the top-brands in the equestrian world, and I was confident their Sunstopper shirt would be high-quality and everything it was advertised to be.
Pros: I bought this shirt in navy blue and I was concerned that the dark color would absorb too much heat in the Tucson afternoon sun. My fears were unfounded because this shirt kept me cool and comfortable all day, even when the high temperature peaked at 112 degrees. I love the fitted tailored cut of this shirt. This is a classy shirt that would be perfect to wear to a clinic or a schooling show.
Cons: The variety of colors available (only navy and white).
Price: Under $50. Buy it here.
#1 Dublin Airflow
Dubin Airflow was the clear winner among the five that I tried.
Pros: Dublin Airflow is priced significantly lower than the Ariat or the Kerrits but it way out performed them. The fit was flattering and close to the skin, so it wicked moisture away immediately. I didn’t realize I was sweating until I looked in the mirror and saw my shirt was wet. I never felt the sweat at all and the shirt was visibly doing what it was designed to do. When the breeze blew, this shirt felt significantly cooler than the others. This shirt is long enough to cover my torso down to mid-hip and the one-inch cuffs kept my wrists covered even with my hands over my head. As a bonus, this was my favorite color and it perfectly matched the Arizona sky the day I wore it.
Cons: The cuffs on this shirt are a bit tight, so I could push the sleeves up to mid-forearm but not all the way over my elbow. Otherwise, I loved this shirt. It is my favorite and I wear it all the time.
Price: Under $50. Buy it here.
Flattering and Functional
As equestrians, we spend significant amounts of time outside. The cool mornings and warm afternoons of spring and fall make it difficult to dress appropriately, but five equestrian companies have created sport shirts that make dressing appropriately much easier. As a bonus, these shirts protect your skin from the sun, reducing your farmer’s tan and risk of skin cancer. If you ride during the fall, any of these five shirts are a good investment for your equestrian wardrobe. I find myself rotating through these shirts daily and I am very pleased with my purchases.
Welcome! I've been a freelance writer since 2002 and have numerous horse-related articles published in print and online publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College with a major in Equestrian Studies and a minor in Business Management. My current business ventures include High Plains Arena and real estate investing.