A question was circulating for a while asking people to describe what they use for tack on their horse and the reasoning behind each piece. If you couldn’t give a reason as to why a certain piece of tack was used, it was suggested that maybe you shouldn’t be using it or you should to expand your knowledge to understand how it works.
A lot has changed since the last time I wrote about what tack I use on a daily basis—not only what I use, but also why. Hellomylivia did a breakdown of her tack and why she uses it, so I am jumping on the bandwagon.
Along with being a chronic interferer (his nickname is Clicker), Ax brushes his hind fetlocks together on occasion so I like to use some protection on his legs. I prefer open fronts on the front legs for the intended purpose of tendon protection with space for a little feeling if they hit a rail. For hinds, I don’t have a preference over open front or ankle boots—I don’t notice a difference either way.
Eskadron AiR FlexiSoft Open Front Boots
For a full set of schooling boots, these are my favorite. I love the tab closure on them because its super easy to use as opposed to the velcro on my Equifits. The hard outer-shell is nice for when he whacks himself and the vents keep his legs cool.
Equifit T-Boot XP2 Boots (discontinued)
I save these more for showing because they look pretty and the liners clean nicely. My one dislike is that the hinds collect arena sand like no other and I worry about them irritating his legs, especially with consistent use.
I use a range of saddle pads for non-slip, padding, and sweat absorption.
Thinline Non-Slip Pad
Lately, (as Ax’s topline has changed) my saddle has begun slipping back about an inch and a half throughout my rides which can’t be good for his back. I use this pad directly under my saddle pads to help prevent the slippage until I get the flocking on my saddle adjusted.
Ogilvy Baby Pad or Lettia Coolmax Baby Pad
The Ogilvy is hands down my favorite baby pad aside from the lack of girth loop. The super v-shaped withers are the best thing since sliced bread and they dry super quickly after a sweaty ride. The Lettia one has girth loops (yay) and does a nice job wicking away his sweat on hot days.
Ogilvy Half Pad or ECOGOLD Flip Half Pad
I use a half pad every ride, without fail. Ax’s back is super sensitive so I like to give him a little extra protection and shock absorption. I could go into depth about them, but I have reviews here and here.
The reason for a girth is obvious, to keep your saddle on your horse—duh.
Professional’s Choice SMx VenTech Girth
I hate fuzzy girths and am too lazy to clean a leather girth, so I picked this one up on sale. It does the job, though it isn’t really as breathable as it should be.
Saddle and Fittings
A few more obvious reasons—a saddle is to ride in, leathers are for your stirrups, and stirrups are for your feet.
2003 Amerigo Close Contact (CC) saddle
This beauty is new to me and so far so good. The seat is a bit large for me and goes farther back on Ax’s back than I would prefer, but it puts me in a nice position on him and it has great wither and shoulder clearance. Like I said, the panels could use some reflocking to fix the slippage problem caused by his shoulder/wither area, but it is the best fitting saddle I’ve found for him that isn’t a custom.
Bates Stirrup Leathers
I am not a fan of Bates products, but these came with my old saddle and are pretty good quality. They’ve lasted quite a bit of time and feel nice and supple.
I use a few different bridles depending on how my rides have been going and what I am doing.
Rodrigo Fancy Stitched Padded Bridle
This is my go to bridle for every day. It looks nice, has held up really well since I got it, and does the job. I have a second one that is reserved for showing.
Rodrigo Figure-8 Bridle
Fun fact: I actually find that Ax goes better in this than a hunter bridle. The figure-8 gives the bit more stability in his mouth which I think he likes. I’ll throw this on if he has been getting fussy or if I am using my elevator. Again, it is good quality and whoever owned it before me oiled the crud out of it so it is buttery soft.
Micklem Competition Bridle
I love this thing. I use it as a mild bitless bridle and Ax loves it—I’m sure he would prefer to go bitless all the time. It is great for days when we are just having a light hack or trail ride and when I find him being a fussy mess.
Ax is super iffy about his mouth and anything you put in it—he is sensitive, and can’t have too much play or he won’t reach into the contact, but still needs a bit of play to keep him there. I am bit swapper and don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing, especially when you have a horse that is finicky. I still don’t believe that I have found the bit for Ax, but I am also not sure if there is one single bit that will work for him all the time. The ultimate goal would be to get him into the same bit for fences and flat.
Happy Mouth Double Jointed Dee
This is my go to bit for everyday. For flat, this is perfect and the best as far as him reaching into it nicely. I like to think that the rubbery part and the french-link aspect are softer on his sensitive mouth than a normal metal bit. Unfortunately, he can get a bit strong over fences in this at the moment, which it isn’t ideal.
This would be my second in command to the Happy Mouth. The flexibility and softness makes this bit great for jumping (when Ax gets a bit excited and forgets I’m up there), but makes getting him to stretch into the contact quite difficult. It requires a bit more work on my end to get nice contact from him, but it is my favorite for over fences.
Happy Mouth Pessoa Double Jointed 2-Ring Elevator
This sucker is the newest to my bit collection. It is saved for the days when Ax is being a big strong jerk, when I’ve had a few iffy over fences rides and need to remind him who is in charge, and when we school in the field. I typically ride with the rein on the large ring to keep the leverage action a little milder.