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…..so many things to adjust.
The Equestrian Clothing
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
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.
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.
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.
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?