Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tack from the Past

Last spring, my Cousin J brought her gelding Skyler's bridle to a Pony Cousins gathering. She was using it as a prop for the scrapbook photo shoot we had. On this bridle she had her late grandpa Jess's reins and a very basic headstall which she'd had for a long time.

This is the best picture I had, sorry Skyler, I know you are not showing your finest manners!

I thought how special it was that my cousin was using these soft, worn leather reins that were her grandpa's. And her mom, my cousin K over at Middle of the Road, did a post about her father's saddle bags. I began wondering about the history behind some of the tack people use.

Since I have only owned a horse again for about 10 months, I do not have a large collection of tack. I have a fair amount, as any horse person knows, sometimes it just kind of, uh-hmm, well, it just shows up on your doorstep, via Fed Ex or UPS, to be more specific. Acquiring horse tack is a bit of an addiction. In fact, I already talked to Paint Girl about going in together on an English saddle next spring, so that we might ride our ponies hunt seat occasionally.

When I first started leasing My Boy, I borrowed a lot of tack. However, I did purchase my own saddle, which is difficult to borrow because it needs to fit both horse and rider. Most of my current tack has been given to me as gifts, or, I purchased new. All I had remaining from my childhood of horses was a pair of 17 year old splint boots. I recently gave those to my mom after I ordered a new pair of SMB Elite boots. For a while, I borrowed a fleece-lined spare saddle pad of my sister's, a high-point award she'd won showing in her high-school saddle club.

Do you have any special tack items that are historic, sentimental, or special to you?


  1. Most of my tack has gone from cheap to expensive over the years. I used the shoddiest and cheapest stuff I could find, then I found vaquero style gear. Ooh la la! I have slowly upgraded over time. eBay was OK for a while, but you have to be VERY careful as a lot of what is there is total junk. My latest purchases were last fall when I was in Sheridan, WY for a Brannaman clinic. I shopped at King Ropes/Saddlery and scored some deals, but I indulged myself and ordered a custom made mohair mecaté from Sara Hagel. I LOVE IT!

    You’ve inspired me again with your subject and I will make some posts in the future about my tack and other gear.

  2. I think my most special tack would be the leather halter w/brass plate and the blanket that I won with Cessa (barrel racing, an old TB against all those little quarter horses! lol)
    I have a lot of tack, most of it of good or better quality. But I don't come from a horse-y family so nothing long term special like your cousin's reins, stuff like that is just super special! :)

    BTW what colour did you order your SMB Elite's in?

  3. Oh man Pony Girl, you aught to see the conglomeration of memorabilia my mom has stored...everywhere!!
    Let's see...some of the "best" stuff?
    My great-grandfather's(dad's side) breastcollar. It is one of those fancy black one's with the big silver dots on it. Unfortunately, his matching saddle and bridle burned up in a barn fire. Mysteriously enough, a cocked revolver was found in the ashes-we still have that too.

    A youth saddle that my grandfather had made for my dad when he was a kid. It was my first saddle and also Megan's. It was made by Bader Saddle Shop in Rapid City, SD.

    My step-dad's trophy saddles for being the 63' and 65' South Dakota State Champion. Along with most of his buckles and pictures.

    My grandfather's(mom's side) A-fork(?) saddle, that he bought 2nd-hand, when he was a kid. That thing has to be 80-90 years old.

    Two handmade by my dad, buckstitched "show" halters. From the 60's.

    And not tack, but;
    My mom's 1971 South Dakota Rodeo Rookie Barrel Racer of the Year trophy.
    And my stick horse-"Brownie", that my dad made for me when I was a baby. I rode him until he gave me slivers-LOL. Megan rode him too, but preferred to "train" her own cloth stick horse, "Broncy", that I made for her.

    That would be the tip of the iceburg, but love all that old stuff and would never dream of parting with any of it.

  4. I did keep some tack from when I was in my teen years. That saddle pad I won as a high point award that PG mentioned, a couple bits, headstall, bell boots, but nothing that was really special (but the saddle pad, I never got to use it, I sold my horse before I got the chance!)
    I do still have all my ribbons and trophies from showing in my teen years, 20 yrs ago!!!!! OH MY! 20 YRS? HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG?
    Someday when I get an actual BARN I want to display all those ribbons in my tack room.
    Oh I forgot to mention, my boyfriends grandparents have given me some antique horse tack from North Dakota that I would also like to display in my tack room in that new BARN! They have given me lots of cool stuff!

  5. Interesting post - I don't have any truly old tack like that - coming from a non-horsey family. I do seem to be doing a great job of buying new tack though!

    I did keep the used english saddle my Dad bought for me when I was 14- he then died a few months later. I've owned the saddle for 20 years and it was used when we bought it. It is in rough shape and waaay to small, but I can't bear to throw it out.

    I also used to have a large horseshoe from one of my grandfather's work horses. It was up on the wall in my barn at home. When I moved away, my cousin started using the old family barn and the horseshoe disappeared somewhere. He probably threw it out...

  6. My Saddle!! My ex(bad man) husbands grandfather (great man) Gave it to me! I love it, I keep it in my room on a saddle tree. My hubby wants to know why he can't bring his saddles in. That's easy, they stink!!

  7. Great post Pony Girl. I have a heavy duty nylon halter that I bought for my old appy who is now deceased over 15 years ago. It's durable and made well and has lasted the test of time. It is Possum's regular halter when we're on the farm and not showing. It's just a little piece of Jose and to remind me of why I love horses so much. I also have the small red tack box that I bought with my dad at a tack store that is now out of business when I started leasing Jose. I also use the original hard brush and horse hair finishing brush regularly and keep it in my brush box.

  8. Oh PG- I am a tack whore..really. I love tack and collect it from all over and everywhere. As a matter of fact, my front room looks like an old west tack room! I'll have to take a few pictures to show you. My favorite piece of equipment though is something I don't use much any more and it is only semi-old. It was the first saddle I bought for myself. A new Simco in 1969, I saved up all my babysitting money - $130.00- found the best made saddle I could afford ( AT the local J.C Pennys no less!) and bought the Simco barrel racer. WOW! I used that saddle forever! I bucked colts out, showed my horse, went trail riding, carried flags and roped calves from that saddle. I gave it to my daughter to use and she used it too for many years. One of our colts actually flipped over with it and broke the tree, so now it's just in the garage. I just can't give it up though- I still put it on colts for their first saddle lesson- No riding in it, but they can buck and flip and makea big ole fuss with it and it won't hurt it, or vise versa.
    Great topic! Sorry I went on so long!
    But then don't I ususally!

  9. Hey we bought some stuff at King Ropes in Sheridan this year!

    I have my mom's spurs, so they are more than 50 years old.

    I have my papaw's best cowboy hat, which is at least that old. It is on a stand in the living room

    I have my great-great-grandpa- harness for his working horses.

    I like crap tack. Mostly because I do not take care of anything, I buy inexpensive stuff like Billy Cook that holds up decently but does not cost a lot. I am also a sucker for silly tack, like with crystals, or yellow ostrich or something else absurd--so I buy cheap of that.

    My first saddle I bought for me was the saddle of a friend who had it for 25 years, and had kept it through divorce and kids and another divorce even when she did not have horses. She was the biggest help to me when we first bought and then sold me that saddle, which now is on a rack in the living room. I know how much it meant to her, so it does to me too

  10. No :0( I am a first generation rider in my family!

  11. We have so much tack from the last 25 years or so it's hard to pick just one item that is special. Of course we have saddles and bridles and blankets from the two best horses we ever had that are no longer with us. Unfortunately, the saddles haven't been able to be used by any of our other horses. We'll just have to wait and see if any horses show up at the farm that can use these saddles. I could never sell them there are too many memories attached and maybe even some hidden horse hair.

  12. Great question! I am very proud to ride in the saddle my dad bought for me when I was 15, with the same girth and even the same high-quality stirrup leathers (an English saddle). I am 52 now.(Yes, that saddle's 37 years old!) It's been my everyday saddle all this time but for the last few years when I moved to AK and don't ride that much. I think it's amazing that it still fits, as does the pair of shotgun suede schooling chaps Mom got me all those years ago. They've had new zippers put in and some repairs but still the best thing to reach for .... I have new ones but haven't broken them in yet. This proves well that quality stuff is well worth it...and that they really don't make saddles like they used anymore. Ask any saddle maker or repair person. My saddle is a Barnsby Featherweight jumping saddle. I replace the girth straps about 15 years ago....My most wonderful piece of tack is a custom saddle my husband gave me by saddlemaker Lyle Henderson of Platte River Saddlery. I worked with Lyle to design and learned a lot as I've never done much Western riding. Hasn't been on a horse yet and won't 'til we leave Alaska in a few years...but oh! It's perfect! Can't wait to find a wonderful horse and try to wear it out in the next 20 years. My goal: to still be riding when I am 75. Okay, it may be a mule by then....

  13. I have a pair of paddock boots that I got when I was 14. I love those things. And I have a pair of splint boots have have gone on every horse that I have ever owned. I got those when I was 16. They are my lucky boots. And I have my very first helmet. I was actually wearing it until two years ago when I bought a really nice jumper helmet. Man those helmets have gotten lighter. But other than that all my stuff is from college years. Which was not that long ago. Only 7 years old.

    I love to collect tack too, I want a new saddle pad. That is my next venture.

  14. I wouldn't worry about the hunt seat. Having run a riding holiday centre, I can assure you that the English fall off more than anyone!

    My favaourite saddle is an old endurance saddle, I've ridden some 10,000 miles with it. I bought it secondhand off the maker, who'd received it back as a part exchange. I guess that it mattered somewhat that he'd been champion master saddler in England six times by that point. Finding a $3,000 saddle used for $1,000 was good fortune.

    My favourite bridle is a Western item with split reins. I started riding that way during a relationship with a lady who was part-Cherokee, who was in Europe at the time. She taught me a lot that was strange to anyone versed in European tradition! Isn't it curious how experiences come and meet one?

  15. I still have Shadest's old halter with his brass name plate on it, his saddles, and one of his bridles. Amber still has several of the brushes, clippers, and tack that we had as kids as well!

    His halter smelled like him for about one year. I used to smell it and picture him all of the time after he died...silly, I know!

  16. I have a Big Horn saddle that an old friend gave me that he used to ride in when he was 15. (We're both over 50 now). I had it re-rigged to the tune of $300 and rode it for a while, but now it sits in my living room just as decoration.

  17. Wow, I've just loved reading about everyone's special tack!

    BEC~ you have some really amazing treasures!

    CDNCowgirl~ I ordered a discontinued SMB boot (it was on sale!) the color was called "brown" but they are actually a rust color, but they look great on my sorrel horse.

    VaqueroGirl~ I remember Simco saddles from when I was young! Can't believe you got one from JCPenny, LOL!

    Melanie~ I don't think its silly that you smelled Shadest's halter...I think it's sweet and sentimental! ;)

  18. OH my! Great topic PG!
    Let's see: we have hubby's first saddle, his Dad's saddle, son's first saddle, hubby's spurs that little cowgirl wore until she won her own pair! hubby's 1st pair of real boots, bull riding chaps`hubby's, hubby's model horses he played with as a kid, lots of headstalls, spurs, hoof picks, stirrups we have won, hats and boots from special times. Well that is all I can think of off the top of my head!

    Girl, you will accumlate things as you go along, TRUST ME!!! Don't knock garage sales, estate sales either I have found real treasures there!

  19. KDW~ My sister still has Breyer models from her childhood, too!
    I love garage saling! The next thing on my tack list, besides an English saddle, is a flank cinch. Circle Y makes one that closely matches my saddle, but it's a bit spendy. I would also like to get the Parelli 22' line, or something similar and not as pricey! ;) Oh, and maybe a new pair of soft leather harness split reins, and, a lariat. Hmm.....see why this is a problem???

  20. We have acquired most of our tack from a friend. My saddle is most likely 15 to 20 years old and in need of repair, but it fits horse and rider (me.. LOL)
    I got my hubby's saddle off ebay, it fits horse, but not rider so much.

    We only have enough tack to ride with and a few extra breast collars. Kind of a "mutt" full of tack stuff.

  21. You have some wonderful ideas, PG! My favorite - I have my mom's saddle from when she was growing up. Her dad bought it for her at an auction when she was ten. It's nickel spotted and heavy, and the most comfortable thing I've ever ridden in. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit Sunny, so I can't use it right now. :( Sometime I'll have to post a picture.

    I LOVE tack shops. But last year I made the effort to go through a lot of the stuff I've accumulated over the years and pick out what was still in good shape. I donated it to a regional youth group for their annual consignment sale. I figured it was a good cause, and saved me the hassle of trying to sell it somehow.


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin