BY RENNIE DYBALL
For most riders in the show ring today, the heavy wool hunt coats of old are a distant memory (or something your mom wore back in her horse show days). Today’s tack store racks are dominated by performance fabrics and lighter materials and there’s a growing trend of jackets lined with—or made entirely out of—mesh.
And that’s how the R.J. Classics Harmony jacket came about. “We pride ourselves on listening to our customers, so when we received requests for a mesh-type coat, we responded!” a rep for the company tells The Plaid Horse. We took the Harmony for a test ride and here’s what we found …
Out of the box, the look is very … mesh-y. Holding it up to the light, you can literally see through it. I wondered just how this could work with a white show shirt underneath but was pleasantly surprised to find there’s zero peep-show effect. A friend at the barn couldn’t believe it either and thought the coat looked very flattering and fun in the saddle. My traditionalist trainer isn’t a fan of mesh coats in general and noted that the solid front panels made the mesh of the sides, sleeves and back more noticeable than if the entire coat was mesh. On the flip side, the blend of materials definitely adds some style.
I’ve owned the R.J. Classics grey label Devon coat and the orange label Monterey coat and found the Harmony to run just a bit larger than both of those. The sleeves were a little longer on me as well. Since there’s no lining or shoulder pads, this coat (similar to the Monterey) provides a more streamlined fit and greater range of movement for your arms. There’s a hidden zipper underneath the three-button front that helps the coat lie flat, the on-seam zipper pockets are flattering, and the buttons on the sleeves add a nod to tradition.
You know your favorite zip-up, long sleeve workout top that’s just perfect for riding? That’s exactly what this feels like. I literally forgot that I had it on – can’t get much more comfortable than that. And the material is just as breathable as promised. It was perfect for a 60-degree lesson but based on the feeling of airflow while riding, I’m sure it would be an excellent choice for summer riding or winter showing in Florida.
If you’re looking for a coat to keep you very cool without breaking the bank, the $239 Harmony should fit the bill. It may not be right for those who favor the very clean and classic look in the hunters and equitation, but no mesh coat would be. Overall, it’s a lovely addition to the mesh coat market and a solid performance-minded pick for jumper riders.
The Harmony is available in sizes 00-16 regular, short and long, in black, navy, and “twilight blue,” with two brand new colors on the way.