Gear and Accoutrements

I could post pages upon pages about this topic. I am going to assume that your here because you might have an interest in distance riding so I will focus on the gear I use for distance riding.
Let me just start out by saying that if your new to the distance riding sport, this is going to be an ever evolving quest of what works and what doesn't for you and your horse.  I can tell you that when I started, I used what I had which was a wade custom built heavy western saddle , a Five Star wool Felt pad and a western bridle set up . Then I went to a custom made Cavalry saddle which I ended up soring my horse with, and then finally I got a good fitting saddle.  Over the course of trial and error, and time , I was able to figure out what I needed. I started getting what I could afford as I went. If you have reasonable decent gear that fits you and your horse well, start there and figure out what you  like as you go. But for the purpose of this blog, here is what I have found to work for me. ***Disclaimer, I am not recommending or receiving any kickback for any of the products noted below, this is only what I have found to work for me and some of the reasons why , or why not. 

Lets start with the big stuff:

Saddles:People who don't ride endurance are fascinated at my distance riding gear, especially my saddle. I actually have two. I acquired a Duett Companion Trail saddle from Mel over at Boots and Saddles. 
I love this saddle. I would buy another in a heat beat if I needed one. This was wide enough for JB's shoulders and comfortable for me to do both distance and dressage work. It's a very comfortable saddle with good quality leather that has held up for a number of years of abuse and still going strong. 

The other saddle I have is a Specialized Eurolight- I also love this saddle. I can do arena work in this as well. This was Maggie's saddle but the cool thing about these  saddles,  which is why I bought it, was the ability to fit it to multiple horses. It is also adjustable for both my leg position and my horses changing back. The downside for this saddle for some is the readjusting for fit . There is a learning curve but after I got it figured out, this saddle has been my best friend. My husband now owns two , a Eurolight and a Wade western. 

Bridles/Breastcollars: There are alot of really nifty bridle/halter combo's out there that are made by Zilco or   the Beta Biothane products. The bridle/halter combo in endurance is preferred because you have the option to remove the bit, allowing the horse to eat/drink without a bit. The biothane material is also ideal because lets face it.. in distance riding, your gonna get shit seriously dirty. I doubt most of us want  want to spend hours and hours cleaning and oiling leather tack.  I have a Zilco breastcollar and it's pretty much the best $100.00 I have spent on my gear. I have used my Zilco breast collar for 5 years now and it's still in great condition. When it gets dirty,  one or two wipes with a wet rag and some mild soap , and its good as new.

I have not purchased a Biothane Bridle however. I have a thing about hardware on a bridle. I don't like alot of it.  I prefer a nice soft supple leather bridle but leather isn't always reasonable to use in distance riding. Lucky for me, my husband makes some awesome bridles made out of light weight rope with fancy knotting and such. No, I can't do the halter/bridle combo but horses have learned how to eat and drink with a bit in their mouth for years and years. I just ride with a halter in place , should I need it. The cleaning of it is pretty easy too. I just throw it in the dishwasher. 

Girths/Cinches- (Whatever you want to call it) I like mohair with the wider belly band section. I have never had a gall sore using these. I don't recommend anything that is grippy rubbery material because my equine chiropractor has told me all the bad things that happen with these related to the muscles and ligaments in in the girth area.  She keeps my horses happy and sounds,  so when it comes to stuff like that, her word is gospel to me. 

Saddle Pads- All I can tell you is that you are going to go mad at all the options out there for saddle pads for distance riding. It's a trial and error thing, just like saddles.  I finally settled on using the Toklat Coolback Endurance model for my Eurolight. It fits nicely, stays in place and works well for my horses. I also have a Specialized pad made specifically for the Eurolight. It's ok for a switch out pad,  or shorter condition rides,  but it's not my favorite. I don't believe it offers enough protection for long distances. 

For my Duett, I use a cotton english pad with a "Saddle Right" pad over it. It's just what has proved to work for me. These pas are pretty popular with the jumping and eventing world but they work really well for any riding where you want a little more protection for your horses back. Overall, there are tons of pads out there to select from. I have an entire plastic container thing in my tack room that I have bought, used and  stopped using for one reason or another. It just depends on what your needs are, what kind of saddle your riding in and what your horses back is like.

Bits- I prefer a snaffle, specifically a Myler comfort snaffle with a copper roller. I have also used the Myler snaffle with short shanks for added control  on competition days. Maggie was a very forward horse and sometimes I needed a bit more leverage. However, over time, I found that this was actually too much bit for her and was causing some anxiety issues for her so we ultimately went back to the comfort snaffle. Some people in the distance riding discipline use bitless bridles. I don't find them overly effective for communication  so I don't use them.  

Neck Rope- I use a neck rope on all of my horses. It's an alternative aid to ask for stopping , turning , etc and allows me to communicate without getting into their mouth. In some horses, like Maggie, she was so forward anyways, she was a beast on competition day. I did not want to get into her mouth if I didn't have to in order to rate her speed. She responded well to the neck rope .It also triggers them to slow and even backup  properly, i.e.- lifting the base of their neck and rounding their back.

Horse Boots or Shoes-I have used both. I have had good luck with both. I would prefer to have my horses barefoot all the time, but because of where I live and the conditions that my horses are in for footing on an everyday basis,  I am not able to. We have loamy soil with some clay ,  no rock, and when we get rain, we get a fair amount of mud. We also have flat ground , no hills. Where I ride on the trails, it's mountainous,  steep, rocky and uneven footing. In some cases, sharp shale type rock. I can't warrant trying to get my horses to stay barefoot when 99% of the time their hooves live in conditions completely different than the conditions in which I ask them to travel on while on the trail.  It just doesn't work and even the barefoot trimmer type farriers in the area agree with that fact.  I do however make sure that my horses go barefoot all winter.  

Packs- I have a set of Snugpax pommel bags and have been mostly happy with them. The Snugpax  are actually bigger than I need as well.  When I ordered them I was using a  western saddle set up. Now that I have the Duett and Specialized, I had to customize them so they would stay put. They aren't ideal and do have some bounce but they work for now. There is room for two water bottles which I like to have in front for ease of access. Eventually I would like to get a new set that fit my Specialized a bit better. The best packs are packs  don't bounce and hold up to alot of wear and tear. There are a few other brands out there as well that I have heard positive things about.

So there you have it- my gear list of what I use. I  will continue to add things as I think of them but this covers the majority of the gear I use. Feel free to email me with any specific questions and I will do my best to give you a helpful answer!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on to your blog while researching saddles for my young Morgan. Oddly, the two saddles you use are the two I've been considering! My fellow, Brave, is built very much like your Maggie and I was curious if you were still happy with yourspecialized. Thank you for your time and thoughts☺