Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Gear Post - 2022 Edition

Way back in the day, I used to do annual "Gear" posts summarizing all the various pieces of tack and equipment necessary to conduct my day-to-day horse habit -- including both show gear and schooling togs. Last one I could find was 2017, which also links to 2016 and 2015.

we have seriously simplified our equipment inventory and i'm loving it
Those posts were always a super fun way to catalogue all my favorite odds and ends, and sorta document the progression of my "collection," if you will. Bc things have changed significantly in the tack department since my earliest days with Isabel lol. 

L'Apogée cross country monoflap saddle
purchased used (with trial) from Farm House Tack
These days, Charlie and I do every ride in my jump saddle, purchased in Feb 2019. I love this thing with the fire of a thousand burning suns, and oh my dear god, it is a far cry from Isabel's Wintec featured in my first ever "What's in Your Tack Trunk?" blog hop post.... omg.

Upgrading to this divine chunk of French leather was a lengthy iterative process -- from the Wintec to two Bates (one jump, one dressage), an awful Kent and Masters jump saddle somewhere in there, then that gorgeous Hulsebos dressage saddle that was like five sizes too small for my butt.... Plus countless trialed and demoed saddles along the way... We're here now, tho, and this L'Apogée ain't going anywhere any time soon!

Dover sheepskin half pad, no shims
purchased used from Maryland Saddlery
I'm one of those riders who just sorta generally prefers riding with a half pad. Ymmv, but for me it's essential kit. Over the years I've tinkered (extensively) with various styles and configurations of half pads and shims and whatnot.... But this basic sheepskin has proven to be the best fit. I like the black too bc it's obvi easier to keep "clean" and kinda disappears in pictures.

Stubben maxi grip stirrup irons
purchased as-is from Stubben booth at Kentucky Vendor Village
Another love of my life --- these Stubben irons. And possibly my best ever buy at Kentucky -- they were on the floor under a rack of sales saddles, and clearly a little scuffed up from doing demo duty. I sorta impulsively asked the sales reps what the "as-is" price for the irons might be, and they offered to knock $100 off sticker price. SOLD! 

These clean up nicely, are conservative enough for basically any ring, while still being just a little extra with the brushed finish. They're extremely light weight, have a comfortably wide footbed, and massive traction thanks to all those sharp little spikes. I luff them <3

Passier nylon lined stirrup leathers
purchased new
And finally during the Covid lockdown, I completed the picture by treating myself to some nice nylon lined leathers after years of stubbornly sticking it out with my utilitarian cheap-o consignment leathers. 

no-name fuzzy monoflap girth, $7 consignment (Maryland Saddlery)
Have no fear, tho --- that's not to say that we don't still have some kinda rough-ish tack LOL! Charlie is extremely particular about his girths. Like, extremely. He requires the softest squishiest fuzziest least-edged strap of basically yarn and fluff that can be found. This ratty tattered no-name dressage girth has been his distinct preference ever since I found it on consignment for $7. 

I *do* have a backup brown fuzzy HDR monoflap girth for the day when this thing eventually gives up the ghost. But... Until that day, Charlie gets to wear the girth he wants lest I risk him standing up (literally) for his rights. 

DIY classy cat bridle hooks still going strong!
Alright so moving on from saddling... Let's talk bridles! Charlie does in fact have a broad array of bridles, but aside from the (very) occasional flat school or dressage test, we go almost exclusively in his hackamore. This is a new trend for us this year, but so far it seems like it's sticking. 

even our cobbled-together bridle can't detract from Charlie's charms <3
ancient Stubben headstall, Dark Jewel Designs custom snap-on browband, Back on Track poll cover cushion, no-name standard hackamore plates + noseband
It's.... not a very nice bridle tho. Which maybe means its our next candidate for an upgrade. I have no idea where I even got the hackamore plates and nose piece --- maybe consignment? 

The headstall was just an old spare Stubben from my bag of strap goods, padded out with a Back on Track poll cover... It's spiffed up a little by a browband I've had for a few years -- the snap-on custom interchangeable bead strand browband from Amelia at Dark Jewel Designs! 

Tory leather rubber grip reins, buckle ends
purchased as discounted overstock from Maryland Saddlery
I had a pair of consignment rubber reins that I LOVED for being super grippy... But you can see them in the background of the above photo -- they did not have a super long life and are probably at risk for snapping mid-ride. So I picked up this pair of Tory leather reins on consignment sometime last year. 

The price was right, they're SUPER long (which... obvi they have to be for bronto Charlie), and I actually kinda like the muted red hue. 

Hamag leather bridle number holder
purchased on sale at Kentucky Vendor Village
Last little extra bridle-related accessory is this leather bridle tag also picked up from a Kentucky trip one year. Idk what it is about bridle tags, but I just strongly prefer having my own. Previously just used the basic plastic tag from Dover.... But the leather is a very nice upgrade. 

Plus it means that at most shows, I never even need to take my registration packet with me -- or worry about returning the bridle tag at the end of the day (most of our schooling shows reuse tags). We also have at least one or two venues around here that don't even do paper tags, and instead just assume you'll wear your pinny for everything -- including dressage, the horror lol. So. I have my own tag and it's nice. 

One-K Defender helmet
purchased new
Alright alright, let's keep going. In terms of rider gear, these days I don't wear spurs or gloves, or use much in the way of gizmo or gadgetry. I do wear a helmet tho --- and the One-K Defender has been my go-to (through multiple iterations) for years now. I think I own maybe 3? 

janky AF Horze half chaps + Blundstones
purchased as discounted overstock from Maryland Saddlery
I definitely need more tall boots, tho. I love my QHP Sophia long boots intensely -- to the point where I kinda went to the ends of the earth (sorta literally / digitally) to find a second pair when the zipper on my first pair died. Oooh, and I still have that first pair to eventually maybe repair said zipper....

But I just can't be so hard on them all the time. So I need to find another pair of tall boots that can be more of my "beater" boots... Until then, it's back to Blunnies and half chaps lol. Word to the wise -- these half chaps are kiiiiinda hideous lol. But they work, so.... Eh, good enough. 

And obviously, Blundstones are basically the best basic boot that was ever invented -- perfect for transitioning seamlessly from chores to riding to anything else you might have to do that day. 

Professional's Choice VenTECH leather open front boots (maybe discontinued?)
purchased used from Maryland Saddlery
And as for Charlie, his leg wear is pretty aggressively simple. He almost never wears boots any more, except for competitions -- and then still just open fronts. Homeboy does not need any extra invitation to be less careful lol...


So. That's kinda it -- maybe kinda a lot, but also definitely a lot less than in years past when we had entirely different kit by phase lol. Are you sorta like me, where you find something you like and then just stick with that forever? Or do you like more variety? Do you prefer to buy new or used? Does it depend? Any plans for your own next big tack upgrade? 


  1. You've inspired some content for me! I have major saddle jealousy, we're struggling there to find something that makes Ben and me happy. I love those leather boots, so classic. I have their non leather version and they're great boots, but just don't have the same look.

    1. yay!! definitely would love to see you share your current set up too! and omg this saddle.... it took a while to get here but damn, it's worth the journey LOL

  2. Ugh I'm getting my saddle fixed right now and the price tag on the repair is YEOTCH! Eventually I'll need to get a different for Dalton when he finishes growing. I am also team half chaps. I wear out paddock boots and chaps at different rates and they're also way more comfortable than tall boots

    1. bleh to saddle repairs.... this one will need some attention at some point or another (some stitching along one of the panels is coming undone... but i'm holding off for now. and glad i'm not the only half chaps / paddock boots person! my QHP tall boots are suuuuper comfy, but that means i just can't be bothered to change in and out of them for the ride. so they end up traipsing out thru the mud of pastures, or getting drenched in the wash stall... and it's just NOT good for their health, womp

    2. Off to check out QHP tall boots now - lol thanks

  3. I enjoy these posts. especially since I'm looking at my 2 year old and knowing he will need his own kit....

    1. oooooh maybe he wants to post a wish-list???? lol

  4. I have plans to get wild here one of these days and finally replace my Micklem for a nice dressage snaffle bridle. It's only been 10+ years 🤣

    1. Lol not gonna lie I’ve kinda gotten used to the Miklem by now… but agreed Opie probably wants something new and fancy :)

  5. Fun post! Maybe I'll post one of my own sometime.

    I've always been way too freaked out about a stirrup leather breaking to ever not have a nylon lined one!

    1. I’m so stubborn lol like when I had perfectly fine utilitarian stirrup leathers I could never justify the cost of an upgrade for something that you don’t even SEE in pictures…. But eh. After enough years of covering something nicer it finally happened during the lockdown lol. Thanks COVID, I guess ??

  6. That is a very pretty saddle! And a great fall blog post idea - it's been years since I posted about any of my gear and likes/dislikes about it.

  7. I love seeing what people are using for tack and riding outfits! (I mean obviously, right...) I kinda do this every week I guess, but it's a great idea for a blog hop!
    I also prefer a nice sheepskin half pad to pretty much anything else out there half pad wise. Most chiro/body workers/saddle fitters seem to agree, so that was validating for me. Lol!


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