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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

June 30, 2012

NEWBIE'S CORNER: Saving on tack purchases

Starting out it is best advised to you what you have as long as it fits well.  Once you are convinced that distance riding is for you, then go into the tack-buying (this is more painful than a long ride) phase.  Save yourself a lot of angst by spending time at a ride talking to people about their gear, why they use it, and where they got it.   Don't take one person's opinion either.  Find the product that is working for quite a few people.  The one place this may not work for you is a new saddle purchase.  It is like finding Cinderella and her slipper.  Your saddle must fit your horse and you.  The basics however are not all that hard to come by. A short list follows.

Biothane tack:  Breast collars, bridles, cruppers, sponge leashes, you can't beat the biothane stuff.  When it gets dirty you can slosh it off in a bucket, let it drip dry for ten minutes and you are good to go.  It is a matter of aesthetic tastes and durability from whom you buy.  Recommended vendors include The Distance Depot for quality biothane tack at moderate price and great customer service, Moss Rock for competitively priced biothane tack with good customer service,  Trailwise Tack for high end biothane tack that is very pretty (but outside of my budget), and great customer service, Action Rider Tack whom I haven't purchased a lot from but they have the right stuff for the sport, Horse's Dacor  who likewise I have not purchased from but have a nice selection of goods.

Saddle Pads:  What to look for is a saddle pad that protects, but does not build heat.  For years I used SKITO pad and it worked great on two of my horses.  My current horse the foam pads build up to much heat and blisters her back so I've switched to Toklat Woolback pad and love that thing.  A lot of factors including saddle fit will effect your saddle pad purchase.  Again, do your research.  Stay away from neoprene and hunt for a breathable pad.  The high end pads are very expensive ranging from $200-300, which makes my $80 Toklat Woolback pad even better!  It works, it washes, I can afford it.  Win, win, win.   I'll stay away from an opinion of the high dollar pads since I won't be buying one of those.  But if you think you'd like one, talk to a few people about them to see if it is worth the investment.

Camping gear:  Take a stroll around ride camp and check out people's set-ups.  You will see everything to living quarters with generators and air conditioning, to a tent in the bed of someone's truck.  If you are in the sport for the long haul and you can afford it, go for the bells and whistles.  It sure would be nice to have a shower after a long sweaty ride I can account for that.  But a five gallon bucket of water, a bar of soap, and some privacy beats the $600 a month payment all to heck.  High rent, low rent, it's up to you.  Both work.  The one thing I long for that I've not purchased yet is an awning for my trailer to get me and my horse out of the sun and the rain.  We just haven't got there yet.   In the beginning I had a little gas cook top, but have found it easier to pack cold food, and totally avoid cooking altogether.  Another thing I'd like to do with my trailer is have electric so I could hook up and at least have a good fan to move air overnight for warm weather camping, and maybe a small air unit.  Most of the time though camping has been primitive so neither would be functional anyway.  A bumper pull, and savy use of space, and simple camping gear will get you there.  My friend Lida is the most effecient camper I've seen yet.  She cleans out the back of her bumper pull, sets up a cot, and she's good to go.  Very minimalist, and her ride is the same as my ride.  She needs to come and give me an intervention.  I'm kind of "pack rat granny."

The basics will get you started, and keep you going.  I'd like to have back the dollars spent just trying to work out those early saddle troubles...I could have totally upgraded my trailer for the money spent.  So keep it simple, and spend that first year having a lot of conversation about what you really need.  You will save a lot of money, and focus more on having fun.


  1. great post! yesterday i looked at connie's tack page on her blog and she rides with supracore saddle pads which run $500! *shiver*

    i like your thinking on avoiding that LQ trailer payment! i think the best way is to befriend those with LQs and bum a shower!

    an awning would rock. i found that having an exterior floodlight over where i tie my horse to the trailer really helps tacking up/untacking in the dark.

    for fun, i attach a glow stick to my horse's halter at night. i also used an electric paddock during daylight hours, and high-lined or tied to the trailer at night to minimize nighttime escapes. that was my personal solution to the various risks in confinement for camping.

    now i have to go look at all your gear links and see what's out there!

    i am excited about troxel's new line of low-profile helmets coming out next month. will they be good? they sure look cool, and inexpensive!

    i'm also thinking about getting more irideon breeches. the polarfleece ones are so warm in the rain. i also don't like riding in spandex when it's a test ride on a green horse: )

  2. I have been everywhere on the camping spectrum: from owning my own living quarters to sleeping on the bench seat of my 1975 pickup truck and everything in between. I must admit that I really miss those days of having my own shower. But what has worked for me in recent years is taking a sort of a sponge bath in the back of the trailer. I take a small (maybe eight ounce) spray bottle, put maybe a half inch of Baby Wash (Johnson and Johnson type stuff) in the bottom of the spray bottle, top it off with water, then spray myself all over with that mixture. Then I scrub myself with a wet wash cloth. I then scoop up cups of water from a bucket and splash that all over me to rinse it off. Very refreshing after spending the day on the trail! If you do not get all of the diluted Baby Wash off of you, it is not a big deal. It does not irritate or feel sticky. I now have a little camp shower that I got at Walmart that helps to rinse myself off with instead of the cups of water. I can leave the camp ("solar") shower in the sun to warm up if a cold shower does not sound good. Just some ideas from someone who no longer has a living quarters trailer and must "rough it" with everyone else!

    1. Here's the great fan ever if you don't have electricity. It runs on a rechargeable 18-volt battery (the kind you run power tools on). I have my SO charge up a couple, we leave for the weekend, you get about 10 hrs on low setting, about 7 hours on a medium setting. Very powerful fan.