California Riding Magazine • October, 2008

Product Review:
Rosie’s Overalls and Zephyr’s Garden
When it rains, it pours.

by Rebecca Sparenberg

Over the past three years I have found that looking for good products to review is like waiting for rain in Southern California. In the middle of a drought all we think of is rain. But the booming thunder clouds that flash and taunt us from a distance rarely live up to their hype. They rumble and crackle fiercely, giving all appearance of being the storm of the year, but then they roll right over without so much as a sprinkle.
The heaviest rains always come out of nowhere, surprising the weatherman (big shock there) and overwhelming the flattened, deprived land. After months of little to no rain, the land, and we Southern Californians, are at a complete loss in how to handle such a feverous onslaught.

Product reviews are similar, and I’m not just implying that offering to review anything is hazardous to my health. All too often, the most anticipated products, the showiest prospects, the ones glimmering with innovation and interest, well, they just don’t pan out. Like the distant thunderheads that boom with promise when it comes to producing, often they are the ultimate let down.

The best products tend to blindside you. You don’t see them coming, and if you do, you underestimate their usefulness and appeal. After months of a product review drought, it finally rained in Southern California and I was swamped with incredible products to review.
Here are reviews of the two best products to blow my way this fall.

Rosie’s Overalls

I want to start off by saying: I am not an “overalls” kind of girl. In fact, despite that I spend a great deal of time in worn jeans, Ariat paddock boots and well worn half chaps, I much prefer wearing clean Seven of Man jeans with spiky Nine West black heels. I would never purchase a pair of overalls; even to save my poor jeans from the rough treatment of daily barn life. To me, overalls forcefully bring to mind greasy mechanics with sausage fingers and scary back-water country boys who only use one-syllable words. Both of which I would go far out of my way to avoid after dark.

I would never order myself a pair of Rosie’s sea green overalls; even though they are made especially for women and come in an assortment of colors, including taupe and (shivers) pink. That said, if someone tries to take the newly acquired teal overalls from me, I might be forced to take off one of my four inch back heels and use it as a weapon.

When the box first arrived, I took it to the main room of our offices so we could all examine the new product. This has become part of my (and California Riding Magazine’s office) product review rituals; product arrives, I unveil it, we all comment.

My first comments on Rosie’s overalls would not go down in literary history. They were something along the lines of, “wow…wow….huh….they are very, very… (blue?) …teal!” Our Editorial Coordinator, Alicia, was less bowled over by the color and immediately went for the product literature. Alicia informed us that the color was not teal, but in fact, sea green, and of course, I was required to model them immediately.

That was a mistake, because as soon as I put them on, I kind of started to like them. I couldn’t help it. It was all those pockets! They were everywhere: above the knees, two on each side with zippers, a front breast pocket that Velcro shut and even a hidden pocket on the inside. Now, it took me five minutes to find that hidden pocket. The flyer just said there was one, not where it was located. You wouldn’t think a huge pocket right inside the front flap would be hard to find, but you’d be surprised.

Huge pockets in front of the knee also housed knee pads. This earned snickers all around from the office staff, but anyone who spends a fair amount of time gardening or organizing tack trucks and boxes would love a little extra padding around the knees. The bottoms of the legs also zip, so the overalls become … capri overalls? Whatever you call them, I loved them.

My particular pair were in a size small and petite. But my understanding of petite and Rosie’s must be different. When I’m not in my Nine West heels I’m 5’2” on a good day. Even with everything tightened and adjusted the overalls were a tad too long … oh about, three inches. Luckily I’m handy with scissors and fabric glue.

Securely altered, I wore the overalls all the time—to muck and feed my horses every morning, to protect my good breeches before a Carleton Brooks’ clinic, to start my garden and to paint my new tack room. I even considered trying to change my own oil; going so far as to crawl under my truck with the same sort of misguided enthusiasm that once got a square peg permanently stuck in a circle hole when I was 4 years old. Fortunately once under the truck my sanity returned and I remembered that my knowledge of oil changing is limited to new oil goes in the top, oil comes out underneath. But the overalls did a fantastic job at protecting my assets from the hard driveway and it was very easy to wipe away any grease smudges.

Since I have been using any excuse to wear my overalls, and it doesn’t look like a trend that will stop anytime soon, I count myself very lucky that they didn’t send me a pink pair.

For more information on Rosies Coveralls visit, call toll free 1-866-767-4344 or e-mail

Zephyr’s Garden

If you’re not familiar with Zephyr’s Garden I’m not surprised. Until Georgette Topakas, founder of Zephyr’s Garden, ran her first ad in California Riding Magazine this August I had never even heard of the company. But if you take a gamble on something new and try one of Georgette’s salves you’ll realize Zephyr’s Garden is not going to remain anonymous for very much longer.

When Georgette e-mailed me about submitting a few samples for my product review columns I “hawed and hummed” over it for days. Not because I don’t believe all-natural, homemade products can work, but because she put it in my hands which products I wanted to try; and I was in the middle of a small war.

It was me and my Morgan, Prize, against the most stubborn, indestructible, recurring case of rain rot I had ever seen. I mean what kind of rain rot flourished during a drought! I hated the idea of pitting a new product against it and seeing it defeated. After all, I had tried half a dozen well known brands and even a cream recommended by my vet. Nothing worked; I couldn’t shake the mental image of the rain rot laughing at me as it swatted my salves aside.

Georgette started making salves to treat hoof ailments when her 17 h, Belgian Warmblood, Zephyr, was on pasture layup. Zephyr was very sensitive and many popular, mainstream brands irritated his skin. Inspired, it grew from hoof ointments to salves to treat bug and horse bites, cuts, bruises as well as hooves in dire need of fast, healthy growth. Over the next few years her products where tested and refined, with new products added to Zephyr’s Garden as new needs arose and Georgette was inspired with new ideas.

Each horse salve is handmade in small batches using extra virgin olive oil, unrefined beeswax, top quality herbs and essential oils. Georgette assured me that she wouldn’t take it personally if Zephyr’s Garden Anti-Fungal Salve couldn’t take down my fungal adversary, and to let her know either way because Zephyr’s Garden boasts a 100 percent guarantee. I was hesitant, but she said, “Give it a try; you never know what will do the trick.” What can I say, deep down … way deep, I am an eternal optimist. I gave her the magazine’s shipping address.

The anti-fungal salve came in a four ounce jar and had some very pretty packaging. The salve itself was yellow and looked like furazone, but it didn’t smell like furazone. Non-toxic and all-natural (made from black walnut hulls, echinacea, nurdock and goldenseal root), it smelled nice, almost sweet.

I ran it over my fingers and let Prize smell it too. He inhaled twice, turned his head to the side and gave me a look that I imagine mirrored my own. As if to say, “Do you really expect something that smells that nice to kill rain rot this vicious?” I shrugged and lathered it up anyway.
Two weeks. That was all it took, and rain rot I had battled for months was gone. Not a bump, a grey spek or dry patch has dared reappear. Victory is mine … well, ours—me and Zephyr’s Garden.

For more information on Zephyr’s Garden visit, call 805-969-7059 or e-mail Zephyr’s Garden products are also available at LA Saddlery at the LAEC in Burbank, CA.

Bring On the Rain!

In a world full of false thunderheads, when something turns out to be the real deal, I can’t tout their praise enough. I believe the best praise I give any product is to say I use it now, I plan to continue using it and when I run out (or in the case of Rosie’s Overalls, wear them out) I will buy them again … and again, and again!