Confessions of a Timid Rider,  Equestrian Life

The Amateur Equestrian Tack Room

Confessions of a Timid Rider: I Need a Tack Room

What happens when you don’t own a horse but live an equestrian lifestyle? Lots and lots of tack and no where to keep it. The struggle is real.

It’s no secret that for the bulk of my life I’ve been passionate about horses and have aimed toward becoming a horse owner. The sad reality is that where I live on New Jersey’s Gold Coast, owning a horse means another mortgage. So understandably my husband is less than enthused at the idea of supporting a 1500 lb. accident-prone animal when the money can go to a multitude of other things for the family, and not just one person. I don’t blame him, although it doesn’t do anything to quell my desires.

Here’s the thing. It starts out innocently enough. I mean, you need to wear the proper riding equipment, right? But I became frustrated with having to borrow tack from the barn. Don’t get me wrong, there are many available. But I would have to look for a saddle in my size, adjust the stirrups, find a girth that would fit the billets and the horse… many things to adjust.

The Equestrian Clothing

Boyd Martin performs dressage at the 2017 Jersey Fresh Three Day Event. Eventers need a lot of equestrian apparel for dressage, show jumping, and cross country.

It started innocently enough.

Once I became serious about riding again, my husband bought me a pair of Tailored Sportsmans. Gorgeous, show quality, and also slightly too small. My child-bearing hips needed a little more give for everyday wear. So I bought some Kerrits riding tights. They are comfortable enough that I can ride, run errands, and be comfortable all day. Thus, I invested in riding tights for summer and riding tights for winter. Then I found a pair of compression breeches that I thought would be great for my curvy figure. I will admit over time it kind’ve spiraled out of control. I think by now I have a drawer full of riding tights and breeches. But that good news is that I’m fully equipped for all seasons.

It’s come to the point between riding and providing massage for my equine clients, that I wear breeches about half the week. So an investment worth making to be sure. I know breeches aren’t the only equestrian clothing but they are a staple of my wardrobe. And I’m only an amateur rider.

These Boots Were Made for Walking…..or Riding

Muckboot and Country Boot at the same time. Story for another day.

Many women have an obsession with shoes. I’m no different. That being said, I rarely dress up anymore unless it’s an infrequent night out on the town. You can say I’m practical, I guess. Working with animals I have to protect my feet and am always outside. So what type of shoe is best? Boots!

Again, this is a practical issue. If you were boots every day it does make sense to have multiple types.  MuckBoots, Ariat paddock boots, calf-rise country boots, knee-high country boots….oh let me count the ways.  I wear boots all year long. They are comfortable and I can wear them to the barn, walking my dogs, to work, or just running to the store.

The Saddles

How many saddles does an amateur equestrian need? Trick question- as many as possible.

Here is where it becomes slightly ridiculous. I will admit it. I became annoyed at having to remember which saddle fit me best at the barn. Assuming it wasn’t being used in another lesson of course. Once I found the saddle, I needed to adjust the stirrups a million times to fit my short legs. Then find the girth that would fit the billets and horse.

So I decided to buy a saddle. It just made sense. I knew that I wanted a saddle with an adjustable gullet because I ride different horses. There was an awesome deal on a Wintec 250 Synthetic All Purpose saddle. I’ll admit I didn’t think it through long term. This saddle is great for trails or flat work, especially on days when the weather is questionable.  But the cantle is a little high for jumping regularly. Although it was barely used, the all purpose wouldn’t be good long term as my only saddle.

My close contact (jumping) saddle was chosen very carefully. I researched brands, rode in a few types, and after much consideration found a great deal on a slightly used saddle via Ebay.  As a result, I ride in my Bates Caprilli 90% of the time. It is so incredibly comfortable. It really is my go to saddle, and I’ll ride in it until it disintegrates, which is hopefully never. The Bates Caprilli Close Contact Saddle also has an adjustable gullet so that I can change it to fit the horse I ride, or for when Delight grows.

Two English saddles but I really did not want to get rid of my synthetic saddle. It was great for the right circumstances and frankly seemed like too much of an effort to sell.

Of course, two English saddles was not enough for this horse-obsessed amateur. There was a period where we were riding a lot of trails on the property. So it made sense to me to get a trail saddle. I found a great deal on a Wintec trail saddle. Again, Ebay. I really need to stay off that site! But I couldn’t seem to help myself. I don’t primarily ride western so I did not want to invest in a heavy, albeit, beautiful leather saddle. Can I go on the trails in an English saddle? Yes. Do I ride trails in my English saddle? Often. So why the western Saddle. Well, why not?

*Want to know something funny? I’m so short that my 15 inch western saddle needed pony stirrup leathers. Seriously.

Three saddles, and I don’t even own a single horse. To be fare to me though, this all happened over a period of 2 years. So it’s not like I went crazy accumulating saddles over night. But I ride at most twice a week. My husband is terrified of what will happen when I actually do get a horse. No wonder he’s hedging, right?

Of course I have the grooming tools, halter, lead rope, irons and leathers for my saddles, plus girths, saddle pads, half pads, crops, etc. etc. etc.

Storage Problems

Here’s the thing. When you don’t own your own horse guess where you keep your tack? Hint: not the barn. When you board your horse at a barn you have space to store your items in the tack room and in your tack box. When you are like me, you make do with the car trunk and your garage. Then you have to schlepp everything you need, EVERY single time you ride.

Equestrians not only outfit themselves for their sport but also their horses. Twice the equipment. Although I am lucky enough that I tend to ride the same horse for a year or more at a time, when you lesson you often ride multiple horses. So when I rode a 15 hand Quarter Horse, I had a 50 inch girth. When I began to ride Delight, my favorite OTTB I used the same girth. But he’s still a growing boy and now he needs a 52 inch girth to be comfortable.

Perhaps it’s foolish to have these items. In my defense, horses are not a hobby they are a lifestyle. While I may not yet have a horse it is only a matter of time. I consider my clothing, tack, and grooming tools to be investments. While I am hiking up that elusive mountain, trying to reach the peak which is horse ownership I know that when it comes time to own my own horse, there will still be items I need. But then, I can keep it at the barn where it belongs.

My tack room is in the garage. Hideous isn’t it?

For now though, I’ll keep storing my tack in my make-shift tack room, aka the garage.


Do you store your tack somewhere other than a tack room?



  • Roosa

    I totally approve of being so prepared beforehand! And why not? At any momnet you may find the horse of your dreams and then you’ll be ready with all the tack!
    And no one can have too many breeches/riding tights!

    • Heather Wallace

      Thanks Roosa! I will definitely be ready for a horse of my own when the time comes. And I completely agree with you- I think I have more riding pants than I do any other clothing.

    • Heather Wallace

      Thank you so much, Kristen! I’ve been working hard on both photography and my web design. Clean is better and makes it easy to read and navigate, which is so important to me. I appreciate your comments!

  • Kelly

    I can totally relate! Having owned 2 horses the amount of equipment needed, not just for them but for me as well, can truly add up! I could only leave so much in a tack room at the barn so you guessed it, home is were the rest stayed. This is not to mention the trunk of my car at the time 😉

  • Debbie Bailey

    My garage looks a lot like that, but with dog gear, tents, sleeping bags, paddle boards, kayaks.. etc etc.. Any kind of outdoor hobby requires a whole lot of gear. Looks like a pretty practical solution for the time being. Hope you get your horse someday! 🙂

  • raisingyourpetsnaturally

    Storage problems cracked me up! I too always have storage problems, no matter what the hobby. I can only imagine if I had a horse hobby! 😉

  • Happy-Go-Doodle

    What a beautiful photo showing equestrian clothing. And the saddle photo has such nice composition and rich colors! Thanks for sharing a glimpse into living an equestrian lifestyle.

  • fashionbeyondforty

    I feel you!
    I used to ride, and train horses but no more.
    I too wish I could afford to have horses again – or at least A horse!
    We do not have enough land for even one!
    Which means PAYING someone else to let my horse live there.
    I would then have to travel to take care of it, feed it, and be with it.
    Not fair in my book as I would want to be there daily for my horse.
    I am not even going to start collecting gear.
    While you are at least ahead of the game – I fear I would end up right where you are – all this tack – no horse.
    Plus I like both English and Western so I would need double the stuff lol
    What a web we weave wen we have a passion!
    I want a horse too. 🙁

    • Heather Wallace

      Thank you! I’ve been enjoying taking photos at the barn. My 6-year old recently did a photoshoot of me mounted and I can’t wait to post the photos- they are too funny. It’s never too late to get back into riding if it is something you love.

  • Sherri

    I don’t have any breeches but really need them. I keep telling myself that I will buy them In London, England (hoping to encourage myself to get to London).
    Hold the phone.. .there’s compression breeches? I need those. Did your Kerrits hold up? I’ve heard mixed reviews. Boots? For me Ariats rule.
    Otherwise, at the barn where I take lessons there’s strict rule about using only the horses saddle and tack that specifically fits that horse. No changing brushes either – they all have their own. No synthetic saddles either.

    • Heather Wallace

      There is a lot to be said about using the horse’s fitted saddles, pads, and brushes. It reduces problems and transfer of fungus or illness. Not all barns are so circumspect. Soybu makes a compression riding tight in black (the only color) but I LOVE them. Perfect for when I need to run errands around town as well. My Kerrits are good for every day wear (I’m wearing my Ice-Fil) right this moment. For boots- Ariat all the way. I completely agree with you.

  • Kristin Avery

    I am a boot girl, too. I don’t ride much, but I sure love riding boots! Actually, I would love to ride more (and I already have the boots. LOL), but I live in a fairly urban area with few options.

    • Heather Wallace

      Boots and more boots! You can never go wrong with them. Urban areas do make it tough to ride but you would be surprised what you can find. There are riding facilities in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island even!

  • Cathy Armato

    Storage is ALWAYS an issue no matter what you’ve got, isn’t it?! If I were a regular rider I know the one thing I couldn’t resist is fabulous Riding Boots! I just love the look of riding boots, I always have. I had no idea you needed more than one saddle – I always thought a saddle was a one & done thing.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  • Shayla

    Lol, this is exactly what my dog stock room is like, only leashes everywhere instead! We don’t really need a reason for new things, I guess when it surpass a hobby and enters a lifestyle, you may as well have the newest of the new!

  • sadieandco

    I can imagine how this lifestyle might seem overwhelming to those first starting out. It looks as though you have figured out a way to overcome not having a proper tack room. Glad to see you have made it work so you can still enjoy riding.

    • Heather Wallace

      Thanks! I’m always looking for ways to keep organized. I’ve been chatting to some friends who own their own horses and use the tack room, and they still use their car and garage as overflow. Tack obsession. It’s a real problem.

  • Beth

    I don’t ride anymore, so I don’t have that issue, but it looks like you are organized! When I rode horses as a teen, I was just at that point to get my own saddle, but we moved and there wasn’t a horse ring nearby. I hope you get your horse sooner rather than later!

    • Heather Wallace

      That’s a shame but life sometimes does get in the way. I stepped away for 15 years between finishing high school, college, and living in NYC. After my oldest was born I started again and my obsession was reignited! Hopefully you get to relive some of your equestrian adventures through my blog.

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