Endurance develops strength of character in us~ Romans 5:4 NLT

Tack

 Butch was asked once what it was I did besides ride horses?  His quick reply was;  "Buy Tack"!  Pretty accurate - you can tell that we've been married awhile!  :-)

  Tack that works - that's what I like.  Leather - there's nothing about it that I don't like!  The smell, feel, durability & the way it looks on a horse.  Over the years, I've I tried a lot of the trendy items that come & go.   If it doesn't work for me, it eventually gets donated or sold at the local  tack sales.  As to bling - I'm old fashioned there too.  I love conchs & have found a craftsman who does some beautiful custom work.  J.L Smith.
Saddle~
Stonewall Sport~
 Over the almost five-years that Farah has been my one & only horse, I've tried to find a saddle that will work for us.   Finally - several saddles, expenditures for pads, shims, saddle repairs, rebuilds etc., I hope we've found the solution.  I'm sold on the Calvary style - leg position - rider's groove!  The Stonewall comes close, with enough improvements to make it a very comfortable ride.

  I received a used Classic model toward the end of Aug.  Post~  After a few rides - I placed an order for the Sport model that arrived Dec. 2015 - Post~  Beautifully made, quality leather, sheepskin & hardware.  I added several options;  a "pocket" seat - with additional padding, black fleece, additional footmans to the side of the pommel, stainless hardware & concho's with leather strings.

  Bucking rolls are a must for me - Everett referred Gary at WS Saddles, who made up the bucking rolls.  It seems that the leather needed for the base is no longer available in black, so we made do.  It will darken with age & I kind of like the accent.  Outfitting it was a breeze - I love Gear Ties & used them to attach the pommel bag to the footmans for a noiseless, bounce free attachment.  It's sleek, simple in design & lightweight - at a little over 18 lbs.  Only time & miles will tell the tale, but I'm loving the ride & Farah is moving the best ever!

Saddle History~ 
  First in importance is of course the saddle.  I've used quite a few now - some worked, some didn't  - then after my accident in 2003, I learned about the value of a saddle with a deep seat.  Since that time - I've been fighting the good fight to find a saddle that will work for both me & my mare.  I've spent more money that I want to think about on this!  Taking people at their word has been my downfall when it comes to saddle makers :-(  Saddles - are so much about personal preference.  Everyone wants that perfect saddle - a combination of comfort for themselves, the horse, style & at a price they can afford.   A friend referred me to the American Saddle Makers Association.  A wealth of information on saddles!

Headstalls~
  With several hanging in the tack room, I went shopping again when I found our new saddle.  Going back to black after all these years required a new headstall.  It was more of a challenge than I thought. Troy Leather had a simple style with the Spanish Browband that I liked, our silver concho's set it off.
Troy Leather Headstall, Beta - Hought Reins, Brittany Pozzi hackamore
Since my relationship with Farah is in continual flux - both of us learn something new - every time we're on the trail.  I've been trying a hackamore off & on - for a variety of reasons.   Farah has developed a habit of chomping on the bit when she's displeased.  Since we are on the trails a lot, it's nice that she can eat & drink without the bit.  Finally - many articles have been written about the benefits of going bit-less.  Interesting points, enough so - to want me to give one a try.  It works pretty well, but I find myself going back to the Mylar.

 My other go-to that I'd used since 2005, was a find at the Bony Pony in Mt. Vernon.  It's well made from quality leather & double stitched.  It fits Farah perfectly - with enough adjustment for most bits. Farah actually wore through my original Mylar bit. I sent it in, they repaired it free of charge!  Post~
Windmill Headstall with a Myler Combination Bit
Reins~
  My reins of choice are 1" wide & 6-7 ft. long.  I use both leather & beta.  The weight of these reins keep them from flopping when you trot, give me the length to allow a horse to drink without being bent over their neck.  I also use them to direct Farah from the ground - at a safe distance over obstacles etc.  Leather does become slippery when wet, so I now have two sets of Beta, made by Hought Tack - one of Havana Brown & the other black.  They are almost identical in weight & feel to leather.

Breast Collar~
  I had quite a time finding a breast collar for the Stonewall.  I decided on Beta & English style with the strap over the neck for stability.  Ordering first from Hought Tack, the first was way too small.  I returned it & the second was way too large.  (I was spending more on postage than the tack!)  Next, I tried American Trail Gear.  The first from them fit, but the snaps going to the saddle D's were smaller than I like.  I sold it to a friend.  The second, I'd purchased a iron & silver ring for.  Now it's adjusted all the way out & almost too tight - I'm making it work for now.
The iron on the ring has rusted now ~
Pads~   
 The pad in the photo below, is sold by Saddleright.  Made in the USA, guaranteed to not slip, roll, bounce & to protect, forever.  The one I borrowed from Cassandra, that was over twenty-years old, worked so well, that I had to buy one.  Only a 1/2 inch thick, yet offer outstanding protection.  I like that it covers under the drop down rigging.  Available in a variety of colors, they do fade over time.  The covers can be replaced for a fee.  This pad isn't light - but that additional weight came in handy at Mt. Adams.  Contact Cassandra if you're interested.  Her link is on the left side-bar.
Saddleright endurance pad
   Toklat Woolback has always been the preference for most endurance riders.  It can be slippery when new - but it's easy enough to tie to your D's to keep in place.  It washes up easily, dries quickly & doesn't cause problems.   I've always had great luck with Supracore pads too, they keep the horses back cool & are comfortable for the horse & rider.  (The Stonewall saddle requires only a 1/2" pad - especially during the break-in period.  I ordered one, but after just a few rides, the binding was rubbing the hair off Farah's loin area.  I may remove the binding to see if the edges could be lightly hand stitched.)  When using the Woolback - I  usually  put a - Stable Ride Saddle Pad Non-Slip Liner - under it.
Halters~
  Years ago, cheap was a cotton rope halter, I used one with Topsy.   If you wanted something nice, it was leather.  By the time we brought the first horses to the Homestead - nylon was the rage in any color.  We bought them & used them for years - they lasted forever & never broke.  After that came Bio-thane, then Beta - both good products, easy to clean & pretty much indestructible.
Farah's - made by Tory Leather
  My preference has gone full circle - back to leather!  It does break - a horse might get away without a halter at all - but I'd prefer that to finding them hung up.

Bags~  
  I'm really happy with the Stowaway Slim Western Cantle Saddle Bag.  For everyday riding, it holds a small emergency kit, I.D. card, pad & pencil, flashlight, emergency blanket, gloves, small saw etc.  It attaches tightly with minimal bounce.
On the pommel, the Snug Pax Pommel Camera Bag is perfect for Farah's carrots & my snack.  It's now discontinued, so glad I bought an extra!
I recently found the set of insulated nylon bags below, for longer day trips - from Tough-1.
Tooled black leather print~
Cinches~
The gold standard is mohair & when you're shopping for mohair - be sure to get what you're paying for.  With my new saddle & tired hands, I've found a great cinch at Distance Depot - made by Montana Cincha & shown in the photo below.  The roller buckles make it so easy to adjust!

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