The Saddle Skirt

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Over the past two years, We've looked at a lot of rain gear designed for trail riding, including rain jackets, rain coats and even rain pants (see October 2009 and May 2011). But this rain skirt piqued our interest.

The $125 Saddle Skirt (Discovery Trekking Outfitters (www.discoverytrekking.com, 877-551-6577) is a square of rain-repellent material reminiscent of a 1950s poodle skirt. It wraps around your waist and spreads out to cover your hips, thighs and saddle.

While it will never make a fashion statement, we found the Saddle Skirt easy to use while mounted. Easy-releasing leg straps kept it secured around our legs. The Skirt did a good job keeping our thighs dry and blocked the wind, keeping our legs warm. We liked the strip of reflective material on each side that could give a heads-up to a driver if you do get caught riding home at dusk.

The horses we selected as guinea pigs had no objection to us putting or removing the skirt while in the saddle, once we did a brief sacking out with it before mounting, including releasing the straps.

BOTTOM LINE. For rainy trail rides, we still prefer packing a large slicker or raincoat, and our favorite remains the long, breathable, waterproof coat from Muddy Creek (www.muddycreek.net, 877-228-8442). It offers full coverage for when you get caught in the rain. But the Saddle Skirt was nice when schooling in the outdoor arena on cold or rainy days, and we think it would be most beneficial for the show rider waiting at ringside in the rain for a class to start. It can be spread out to cover pricey show pants and an expensive show saddle and be quickly removed when it's time to enter the ring.