SP RHODES Equestrian sun shirts aren't just ready for your personalization; they are personal.

Being form the Mediterranean, I naively thought I was going to be spared from sunburn and sun-related skin conditions. Our first horse show season in the Desert was a huge lesson in how quickly dehydration and skin damage can creep up on you. For the first time, I had experienced skin discomfort in the way of a consistent rash that was eventually determined to be a sun allergy. 

Managing this was do-able with antihistamines and high SPF sunscreen; however, this was not a permanent solution since we are outdoor people.  Victor is a cyclist and I run; a lot. There was no escaping the need to find resolution. I had tried every possible long-sleeve shirt option as a way to protect my arms and then finally took a deep dive into my equestrian sun shirt collection. I loved the idea of mesh under the sleeves and also the UPF protection from some of the brands; however, the first one failed in the sun protection department and the second one had pokey zippers that rubbed.

SP RHODES UPF50+ Cooling Custom Equestrian Sun Shirt - White

One of our board members has 30+ years experience in high-end athletics and he made a suggestion. It was a little outside of my comfort zone but viable enough for me to give it a try. Long-sleeved cycling jerseys from the higher-end European brands were cooling, comfortable and provided sun protection. He suggested I try that. 

We found one locally in my size since two of our team members were cyclists and knew where to go. I now had myself a surrogate sun shirt that was comfortable and kept the sun off my arms. To be considered a real sun shirt in my eyes (in part because I have been groomed with the expectation as a rider), I needed mesh sleeves; I also needed a fabric that wasn’t going to be a dust magnet and the ability to unzip the top. There was clearly a problem we needed to solve; if I had this problem, so did others. While the fashion piece of things didn’t meet my expectations, the utility did. I was comfortable and safe from the sun. 

Keeping up with my run schedule and running at home was never an issue. The sun has always been moderate and I always run in regular technical long-sleeve shirts to protect me from the sun. In this particular case, there wasn’t “something in the water”; there was “something in the sun”. Desert sun so easily wilts the desert rose. 

Our thoughts were that if we over-engineered the perfect equestrian sun shirt (or what we considered at the time a run shirt) it would be suitable not just for equestrian sport; but sport at large. We weren’t asking for too much from our athletic gear; it just so happens that many equestrian sun shirts are made in the order of rider wear first, athletic wear second. Nothing wrong with that but we beg the question; how can we change this? Our equestrian sun shirts with the mesh sleeves were engineered with the opposite intent; design for the most harsh conditions so you can enjoy in any conditions; while on your horse or not. Function first, application second.  If the equestrian sun shirts met the criteria of the most gruelling athletic conditions, they would exceed expectations in equestrian sport since most riders would not be out in 85+ degrees on concrete basted in sand. Breathable sun protection with mesh sleeves; that was nothing new. Levelling up a product that has always met status-quo to a place where we felt it performed exceptionally; that’s new and that’s why the SP RHODES sun shirts are the best.

SP RHODES equestrian sun shirts were born out of necessity. They are specifically designed to endure sport; whichever it may be.

1. The general definition; what is an equestrian sun shirt? UV light can penetrate through the micro holes in the weaves of regular equestrian wear and can even travel directly through a light-colored shirt. With UPF equestrian sun shirts, sun blocking is far superior, giving you more sun protection. SP RHODES sun-protective rider wear looks and feels like activewear or athleisure wear and comes in a variety of riding shirt styles. Higher thread count also means sun protective clothing is typically more luxurious vs. your standard riding shirt.  UPF rating numbers matter when purchasing UPF equestrian riding shirts. For example, UPF 50+ means that the item will allow 1/50th or 5.55% of UV rays pass through. Any garment that allows less than 2% of UV rays will be labeled UPF 50+, the highest rating. 15 UPF is the lowest rating. The addition of mesh under the arms and into the armpits adds substantial underarm airflow. 

2. Equestrian sun shirt fit: Equestrian sun shirts typically fit very snug so they are like a second skin. We wanted to find a fabric that performed well and also offered a dynamic fit. In other words, if you are typically a size small in an equestrian sun shirt, you can wear either a size small or a size medium depending on how you want it to fit. A small will fit snug, as you would expect for an equestrian sun shirt. If you size up to a medium, it will fit more like a standard quarter zip. Both look great; the fit is a matter of personal preference. Sleeve length and shirt length have been taken into consideration so that sizing up or down doesn’t affect arm length or shirt length in a way that presents challenge

3. The best equestrian sun shirt fabric: :
There are lots of fabrics to choose from for women’s equestrian sun shirts. The best equestrian sun protection means a decision to use the highest quality materials. We wanted a fabric that offered authentic UPF 50+ sun protection and met the criteria for what we call the “fall” of the fabric. In other words, does it droop or does it drape? If you look at high-quality fabrics, they drape beautifully on the body; they don’t crinkle or look saggy. With four-way stretch if you stretch the fabric in your hands four ways, can you see through it? If so, the sun can too. If it doesn’t have a shine to it, it won’t reflect, it will absorb. It will also mean dust adheres more easily. When you are out riding, you will always face at least one ring at some point that needs to be watered. No dust from us. Other things to consider? How quickly will your sun shirt dry? How quickly will it moisten? How does it feel on the skin once damp? A cooling fabric will evaporate moisture quickly creating a cooling sensation on the skin. This is what we aimed for and why we call this a cooling equestrian sun shirt.

4. The ability to personalize your custom equestrian sun shirt with the best possible logo result: If you can see through the fabric then it won’t have enough heft to support your equestrian logo. Thickening up the fabric in a way that allows for a beautiful custom result is not feasible for an equestrian riding shirt meant to be cooling. When you are using fabrics that have a strong fibre architecture, you are creating a product that can sustain the assault of repeated needling with an embroidery machine. We consider both before the sun shirt is washed and how it performs after it has been washed. A scrunched up embroidery result won’t do your equestrian brand the justice it deserves. Thread count and weave were all considered.

5. Equestrian sun shirt breathability: Mesh under the sleeves can be a challenge with so many mesh options. Our goal here was to find a mesh that was strong yet still comfortable. If you feel the mesh under the sleeves of our sun shirts, you will note that is is very smooth and resistant to fabric pulls. Extending the mesh all the way under the armpit was also a decision that maximizes airflow. Quality mesh with strategic placement results in optimal breathability where it matters most.

6. Equestrian sun shirt shape: Quality fabrics won’t lose their shape and the best way to test this is after your equestrian sun shirt is washed. What does it look like? Is it crinkled looking? When you hang it to dry what does the fabric feel like? Once dry are you looking at it thinking, “Are those wrinkles going to show once that is on?” I am the first to admit I am always in a rush and I don’t have the patience to iron my shirts. One of my greatest affections for our equestrian sun shirt is how it dries out of the wash. I hang it for an hour or so and it’s ready to go; looking and feeling brand new. No sagging, no wrinkles, no concerns. Throw on a pair of jeans and I’ve got myself an immediate outfit with zero effort. This is a sun shirt that transitions beautifully into everyday wear. I wear it in the office, while running and even out for the evening. I get compliments and that is in part because of the quality.

When we consider fit, fabric and the personalization component of our equestrian sun shirts, we can be confident the SP RHODES UPF 50+ Sun Shirt is truly the best option for equestrian sport. We have tested our equestrian sun shirts in the harshest conditions and that is what gives us the confidence to say you need to try one.


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