I have been involved with horses for over 40 (yikes!) years…. I have worked in several tack shops, and I have owned my own tack shop. I am also one of those people who likes to try out every new thing that comes down the pike, just out of curiosity mostly, but also to see if there are any really good new things available. Here are some of my picks for favorites:
Please Note: I have not been paid by, or accepted advertising from, any of the manufacturers mentioned here-in. You can trust that if I say I like it the best, I really mean it.
I prefer riding in a treeless saddle, although I do own one treed saddle. I find that I ride in my treeless almost all the time, except if I’m doing a lot of jumping, or have to go to a horse show. I feel very secure in it, and my horses seem very comfortable. After trying out about 15 different treeless saddles, my favorite is the Barefoot Cheyenne. It fits every horse I own, is pretty indestructible, very comfortable, and looks nice too.
NOTE! Recently my Barefoot saddle was damaged (saddle slid around under horse’s belly when rider fell off…. horsey then kicked off both stirrups, damaging the saddle). The stirrup bars were stitched on (there is no emergency release), and the stitching was pulled out when the stirrups came off. The US distributor has informed me that she cannot repair the saddle, and my local saddler has said they cannot make the repairs…. it took me a while to find a saddler (thanks, Skeeter of Warrenton, VA!) who did a nice job of the repair and for only $20!
My treed saddle is a County Extreme, which I find comfortable and good for foxhunting and eventing. It’s a beautiful, well-made saddle, and fits most of my regular-sized horses.
I am going to test out a new saddle I have been hearing a bit about called a Specialized. Stay tuned for my review!
I absolutely prefer a bitless bridle to a bitted bridle any day!!!! (For more on why, check out my page “Why Bitless is Better”). Of course I have to recommend my own Aeron Riding Halter here! It’s bitless bridle and NH halter in one. For more info, click on Aeron Riding Halter in my links section. For those wanting a more traditional look, you can do what I did: I made a bitless bridle out of my Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle by removing the cross-under straps (my horses didn’t like them), and turned it into sort of a plain side-pull. I use this for foxhunting and showing. Other than that, I use my riding halter for all riding and training.
For traditional, bitted (if you must) bridles, I just use a plain brown leather Crosby bridle, and only ever use a french link snaffle… and that’s only if I HAVE to use a bit, for example in certain recognized competitions, or preparing a horse for sale (more on why later). I prefer a D-ring or, even better, a full-cheek snaffle, so that there is less danger of the bit pinching or pulling into the mouth in extreme circumstances. I only use a french link, and not a regular single-joint snaffle, as these have a nut-cracker action in the horse’s mouth, both pulling down on the sensitive bars and jabbing the roof of the mouth all at once. How lovely!
I used to ride in chaps all the time. Now I ride in Equissentials riding pants, because they are way more comfortable, and cooler in the summer. They aren’t cheap, but they are very well-made, have gorgeous soft leather that never gets stiff, and are really really nice! I love the full-seat, boot-cut jods the best.
Gloves: Neuman Tackified gloves are my faves. The slightly tacky grip is great, and they really last well. They can be found in most tack shops.
Horsey boots: Between my mother and myself, I think we’ve tried every horse boot on the market… so far I like the Boa boot and the Easyboot Epic the best. Both are made by the Easy Care company.
Round Pens: After doing extensive research into round pens, I like the Noble Round Pen the best. Many many round pens out there don’t pass my safety standards, mostly because they might possibly endanger or injure the horse. The Noble pens are safe and sturdy, and last forever. A very good investment for any horse owner.
Continuing Education: I am a big fan of John Lyons. Having met him several times, I can tell you that he is just as nice and polite and humble in real life as he is in his videos. I highly recommend his first video series for those just starting out in natural horsemanship, or those needing a refresher course. The original series can be hard to find… they’re the ones in the yellowish-orangish covers. They were fairly cheaply done, but I think have the clearest, most easily understood instructions for learning horsemanship basics. Sometimes the set can be found on ebay. They are well worth having.