Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Current Equipment

One of the things I love about dressage is the simplicity of the gear required to do such complicated and intricate things. You don't need the most expensive set of everything in order to do it. Sure, you can buy $200 breeches and a $1000 pair of tall boots, but you don't *need* them. If you have a well fitting saddle, a well fitting bridle with appropriate bit, and a girth, that is really all you seriously need. 

When I was eventing I had basically one of everything in baby blue (or purple, before I got into the baby blues). Everything. Boots, bells, bit guards, reins, saddle pads, martingale and rein stops... even my spurs had baby blue stones set into them. If it came in baby blue, I had it. I had SO MUCH STUFF. And I have a lot of carriage driving stuff too. Carriage driving basically requires you to have an insane amount of everything... there is SO much gear. Regular plain old dressage is bringing me back to refreshing simplicity, and I'm enjoying it for a change.

Have saddle, have bridle, have boots, will ride. (And of course, helmet and gloves!)

I own surprisingly little gear. It surprises even me sometimes. I only own three really good pairs of breeches. (I have a number of others, but they either don't fit or they're aged and showing it... I should get rid of those). I have a few pairs of schooling gloves, which I think are important and worth spending money on. I have two helmets, a Charles Owen and an IRH - the IRH is the only one that is really dressage appropriate, but it is also aging and will need replacing before long. I only ride in tall boots (force of habit, I think), and am getting ready to invest in a nice new pair - I also always wear a set of spurs. As for shirts, I wear polos when I am at clinics, lessons, or schooling shows, but the rest of the time I just toss on whatever I feel like wearing, mostly tank tops or the occasional t-shirt. I don't have a million pairs of ridiculously expensive breeches or fancy fabric riding shirts, not by a long shot.

DSB boots and polos

Dylan's gear is also very simple. While I have about 50 million polos and boots, all that I use with regularity on him are either his DSB boots or leg liners with polos over them. He always wears bells, and I have lots of pulls ons in rotation as well as a pair of fleece lined ones. He has only one saddle pad, a Back on Track pad with a Thinline pad sewn right into it. It's the best pad I've ever owned, and still looks great, despite the fact that it both gets a ton of use and a ton of washing. Before I had the saddle fitted, he also had a Mattes correction pad, but since he no longer needs that I only ride him with just the saddle pad and nothing else. I've never had a saddle fit so well that I didn't feel like I needed some kind of something between it and my regular saddle pad, so this is new and exciting territory for me. He's going SO well with the newly fitted saddle that it makes me wonder how I ever got on otherwise! His saddle is obviously the Schleese, which is the one he came with that was custom fitted for him years ago. I alternate between the snaffle bridle and the double. I've been considering just showing in the snaffle bridle to start when we go out at 4th, which is completely acceptable. He goes just as well in either bridle, but since I tend to forget how to ride when I'm anxious, I don't want to get hung up on my curb unnecessarily in the show ring. 

Only the best pad ever
DSB boots and bells

Polos and leg liners

Double bridle (and O's lunging bridle next to it)

Picked this up for not very much money! Patent noseband and unnecessarily ridiculous browband
The old reliable... Schleese and girth!

There are things I am willing to spend money on, and things I am not. Things that really are important to a horse's comfort and ability, like well fitting saddles and well made bits, are things I don't compromise on, though I will always look for a good deal if possible. But all the frivolous stuff? Eh. I don't need it. I have more important things to spend money on, like good feed!

I pride myself on being a ridiculously good deal finder. I like nice equipment, but... why pay full price on it? I'll have another post on that later!

So, what do you use for your horses? Do you stick with the necessities, or do you go all out? 


  1. I ride dressage only. I have 2 saddle pads per horse for rotation purposes. 1 saddle that fits both of my mares (from the same breeder, from the same grand sire) reasonably well, 1 bridle per horse, 1 set of professional choice boots that they share because I can use them for anything, 2 pairs of schooling breeches (purple ones and tan pull on schooling breeches) that fit well enough that I like them, a pink schooling helmet, a few white show shirts from eons ago when I used to show, a black show jacket, and dress boots. I need new riding boots, show breeches and a black/show helmet desperately!

    The only thing i collect is apparently halters and lead ropes. Each horse has 3 halters. 1 nylon for day to day use, 1 rope for when they need some in hand refreshers, and 1 leather for when they are out and about. I collect lead ropes because I'm picky and when I find them on sale I buy then. I only like cotton as I've gotten bad rope burns from handling some else's naughty horses with nylon only ropes.

  2. My mum & I collected a lot of horse gear between us (2 riders, 3 horses, & I used to work at a saddlery). After a few years of horse ownership we've figured out what gear works for us and culled as much as possible. Some things I like to keep around though just in case - eg: I like to have a collection of bits. I don't really use much gear though... I lunge about once a year if I need to check for lameness, & I only use leg protection for jumping.
    Plus I'm trying to reduce unnecessary consumption in my life, & that includes horse stuff... so no more buying saddle clothes just coz they're pretty :'(

  3. I would like very much to say I'm a necessities kinda gal. I like practical things and tend to stick with what works and use the same gear over and over. But. Um. Let's not count how many bridles I own. Or, uh. Saddles either. Or bits, boots and various other accouterments. Strap goods or saddle pads or so much other random shit in all sizes and colors. And let's just forget altogether that this is coming from the person who has legitimately never even owned a horse....

  4. Love this topic. I felt the same when I switched from Eventing to Dressage - pre-show tack cleaning was so much faster! I own just one bridle, two bits, one saddle per discipline, one Supracor half pad (jump shape, works fine for both), and four saddle pads. I ride in t-shirts and normally Irideon kids tights I got off eBay for no more than $20. Now that I have more disposable income I'm starting to get distracted by shiny things like PS of Sweden bridles and breeches with belt loops, but if I'm honest, I like riding in tights and tanktops and my one bridle policy. Even if it doesn't match my jump saddle.

  5. Long time reader just commenting now because I definitely follow your strategy! I hate having tons of gear I don't end up using so I'd rather have one or two items that work great and which i use all the time. I paid serious cash for a prolite girth for my mare who has a very forward-set girth area and I think it makes her a lot more comfortable. I also used a shimmed sheepskin pad under my old dressage saddle, until I got a new saddle that fit beautifully. So I sold the sheepskin! Might get a new one since I learned that they do wonders for reducing concussive force on the back, but I don't regret getting rid of it.

    My only problem right now is that I ride dressage, and like you, I have a chestnut mare (with a roach!). She looks great in cordovan. So I admit I have a total boner for brown or cordovan tack and boots, and pray for the day that I'm such a baller that I can outfit her in all-brown dressage gear, convention be damned.

    I LOVE your blog Andrea! Your journey with your horses inspires me so much and I can't wait to see what the future holds.

  6. I sort of go all out but I've got one pony and I'd rather get nice tack and riding clothes than just about anything else. If I owned multiple horses or had gear for multiple disciplines I would certainly be pretty minimal with my equipment.

  7. i collect certain items. Like bits... so many bits. Weymouths, snaffles, you name it i probably have it. Also saddle pads and breeches