Tack Breakdown

I’ve mentioned our tack setup in passing a couple times, but here’s a more detailed breakdown of what Frankie and I use on a regular basis. It’s the same at home and at shows, we’ll just swap out our boots and use an official saddle pad.

Saddle: used buffalo Antares, 17.5 5A

Before we got it re-paneled

The one and only saddle I tried when I started saddle shopping. The fitter had been told that I have stupidly long legs and had prepared by bringing several saddles with longer flaps, but she took one look at me and just handed me this one. The seat is a leeeettle bit big- I could probably use a 17 instead of a 17.5- but that 5A flap is SO hard to find in my price range. For those unfamiliar with Antares saddle sizing: the number (in this case 5) refers to the length of the flap, ranging from 00 (itty bitty pony/child size) to 5 (giraffe legs) with most “normal” adult saddles being around a 2 or 3, and the letter (in this case A) refers to the positioning of the flap- the options are N for normal, A for forward, and AA for super forward. Apparently there are other options but you’ll have to figure those out for yourself because that’s the extent of my knowledge. Back to my own saddle: the 5A means that it’s a forward flap and literally the longest non-custom one they have. It’s pretty much as close as I can afford to custom-it puts me just in the right spot and is super duper comfy. Buffalo for the win, that stuff is soft and sticky and wonderful. We recently had it re-paneled to fit Frankie, so now we have a like-custom saddle for a fraction of the price! I love my saddle rep, she is literally the coolest.

This thing is my baby. It isn’t even healthy how much love I have for this inanimate object.

Girth: Showmark Performance girth, size 52

(see below picture)

I grabbed this from Dover 2 days before Loudoun when I abruptly realized that I probably shouldn’t show in the ratty hand-me-down fleecy girth I’d been using (and still use sometimes). A wonderful case of procrastination and panic gone right! I’m very very happy with this girth. The leather is good quality, soft, and easy to clean, and the elastic is nice and stiff so I’m not tempted to just keep tightening. Frankie doesn’t seem to really care which girth I use so I can’t talk much about how happy it makes my horse…but it doesn’t make him UNhappy so that has to count for something? I guess?

Down the line I’d like to save up for an anatomically shaped one or even a belly guard, but that’s just me wanting to play dress up with my horse. You’ve all seen pics of Frankie jumping. He clearly doesn’t need a belly guard.

Breastplate: Nunn Finer 3-point w/ elastic

Girth kinda visible? I love the navy elastic because I love all things navy.

This is the newest addition to the family and I’m thrilled with it. Getting my saddle re-paneled helped immensely with saddle slippage, but I’m still worried about it when the jumps go up and he starts actually trying (which has happened roughly twice since I bought him). So I asked my trainer, “3 point or 5? Elastic or leather? Any good brands? Any terrible ones? I NEED GUIDANCE.” And she casually said, “Nunn Finer makes a nice elastic 3-point.” And this is why I love her. Short, to the point, and the next day I had my new breastplate in hand! (I know a lot of people are not big Dover fans, but I placed the order at 2pm and it was waiting at my door the very next day, and shipping was like $5. I was pretty darn happy with it).

So far this has been great- it’s very adjustable size-wise, the leather is really good quality and has softened up very quickly, and it fits Frankie nicely. I was a little intimidated by all the buckles at first, mostly because I’m clueless when it comes to anything besides a plain saddle and bridle, but now I really appreciate all those buckles- I was able to adjust each piece to the right length to fit Frankie just right. The neoprene shoulder discs do make Frankie sweat but don’t seem to be causing any rubs. Further updates as we get more use out of this thing.

Bridle: Smartpak Plymouth snaffle

Bridle, bit, and EquiFits all present and accounted for

A fantastic schooling bridle! I’ve used this almost every day since bringing Frankie home and it has held up fantastically. The leather softened almost immediately (I did use neatsfoot oil to hurry the process) and with regular saddle soap and conditioner it still looks good. Not to mention, Frankie looks super handsome in it. He looks handsome all the time forever, but that’s beside the point.

I’m planning to splurge on a Vespucci sometime in the not-too-distant future (drool) so we can have a schooling bridle and a show bridle, but this one has been serving as both so far. I don’t think it’ll last forever- mostly because it gets used so heavily- but I’ll likely replace it with the same when it does eventually kick the bucket.

Bit: Full cheek plain snaffle

(see above picture)

Frankie was in a plain full cheek when we tried him out and he seemed fine, so I grabbed one to continue using when we brought him home. He wears the same one at home and at shows, though I’ll likely pop a Pelham in his mouth when we start doing the eq. Is this the absolute best bit we could possibly have for him? Not sure- we haven’t really done any experimenting. But he’s healthy and happy and responsive to it and I’d rather not mess with something that ain’t broken!

Boots: Eskadron open-fronts OR EquiFit open-fronts (tab closure, discontinued model)

The white boots look sharp on those dark legs!

(see above picture for EquiFits)

We school in the Eskadrons and I’m mostly glad to have them because of the hinds. Homeboy interferes in the back pretty regularly and I like having a little something to help protect him. Not much to say about these- we all know Eskadron. These replaced the first pair of open-fronts I had for Frankie and I like these soooo much better- they hug his leg without pinching or gapping.

We show in the EquiFits- love these. I was worried at first because they seemed SUPER small, but after a short break-in period they fit him like a glove. I’m glad to have something a little more substantial on his legs when we show since the jumps tend to be higher and we’re jumping more often. They clean up nicely and look great on him!


I’m not planning on adding anything else to the tack family any time soon. Maybe a bonnet in my barn colors? I’m lucky that he’s pretty easy-going about tack and easy to fit so we’ll keep things basic and straightforward. I haven’t had to make any hard decisions on what to use with him, but we’ll take it one day at a time!

Do you have any specific tack choices you’ve made? Why?


35 thoughts on “Tack Breakdown

  1. Megan 07/28/2016 / 8:27 am

    i love seeing what tack people use. that saddle is gorgeous! its so nice finding something that fits & works.

    i am so on the fence about breastplates/collars/whatever you wanna call em. im always worried they restrict the shoulder or the part that connects between the leg will get caught on the foot if he jumps funny. but i really like the added security/grab strap.


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 11:05 am

      I lucked out for SURE with the saddle, it’s my baby!
      I’ve definitely been keeping an eye on the breastplate in terms of movement- Frankie doesn’t really use himself that much over this height but as we go up I’m going to reassess.


      • Hillary H. 07/28/2016 / 12:06 pm

        Generally speaking if your saddle fits well and the breastplate is adjusted correctly I wouldn’t think it would interfere with his movement. I haven’t ever noticed any problems with mine and it doesn’t even have elastic. If your saddle wants to shoot off the back of your horse every time you ride a breastplate will only be a band aid.


  2. Monica V 07/28/2016 / 8:28 am

    I could literally write my own, whole entire post about this because 12 years as a tack whore leaves you with lots of hoarded toys. I will say that I love that breastplate and I also show B in Equifits!

    But for real doh, I love tack.


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 11:05 am

      I vote you definitely write a post because I want to hear about all of the things. This is basically all my tack so I wanna live vicariously through other people’s collections haha


      • Monica V 07/28/2016 / 12:26 pm

        I think I’ll have to now because I’m not riding so I might as well get an interesting filler post in ๐Ÿ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hillary H. 07/28/2016 / 9:27 am

    I am a total tack ho and have all sorts of stuff. Plus Eventing lends itself to multiple sets of tack. And then having 2 horses… I have a Smartpak bridle that I only got because I wanted a figure 8 with no fluffy disc. It’s okay but I do wish I had something softer/ nicer.

    I use a bridge breastplate more as a oh sh*t strap than anything. My running also attaches to it though. Annie has been going in a variety of bits and currently we flat in a myler loose ring and jump in a copper roller full cheek. I like that with keepers on a full cheek the bit can have a little extra without being a full on leverage bit.

    Nice set up!


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 11:08 am

      I am a tack ho in mind only, but slowly building up my collection!! I’d also love to get a figure-8 but I can’t justify it when I’m hoping to give the eq a try…but Frankie would look KILLER in a figure 8, I just know it ๐Ÿ˜‰ Honestly I think we could swap out Frankie’s bit for a D ring without him noticing, but we haven’t gotten around to it. When we tried him they handed him to me in a full cheek with no keepers so we just popped really loose keepers on and have been rolling with it haha

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hillary H. 07/28/2016 / 11:27 am

        One doesn’t amass a hoard of tack over night ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’ll get there in no time. ETT is my jam for finding things I don’t need but want. Also with the Plymouth you could probably just get a figure 8 noseband I would imagine.

        I have been called the tack police after a recent post and everyone has their own philosophy but for me personally its normal keepers, no keepers, or I would just use a Dee ring or even Egg butt since without the keepers that’s kinda what a full cheek is anyways.


      • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 12:16 pm

        Oh I hadn’t even thought of just getting the noseband, that’s a great idea! A little more affordable too at this point haha.
        We’ve had to get a little creative with the keepers- they kept popping out when they were tighter but I wanted something to help keep the pokey ends from being too…pokey (I’m clearly super technical). I have a feeling we’ll end up in a D eventually, homeboy doesn’t seem to need any leverage!


      • Hillary H. 07/28/2016 / 12:18 pm

        Ah that sucks. I find that keepers can only live through a few bit switched before they are too stretched. Luckily they aren’t too expensive!

        And yep! It’s easy to add new nose bands if you don’t have a monocrown. I would see if you can find a used one you like on eBay or English Tack Trader ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. stampyandthebrain 07/28/2016 / 9:30 am

    My antares (which I sold and got a cwd) was a 5AB flap – so two forward but then forward is lower for a long thigh. When I was looking at it online they said it had belonged to a 6’4″ man so evidently my legs are equivalent even though I’m 5’11”! I did love the antares but it had an incessant squeak that drove me bonkers and was a bit big. It’s always fun building up a nice tack collection!


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 11:09 am

      Giraffe Legs unite! My breastplate is squeaking right now and it’s driving me BONKERS, I’m breaking out all the oil to make. it. stop.


  5. Terisรฉ Cole 07/28/2016 / 10:08 am

    I love reading (and drooling at pretty tack in) these types of posts! I may steal it ๐Ÿ™‚


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 11:09 am

      Yes yes yes! I want to read about everyone’s set up, it’s so fun to see what people use and why


  6. Karen M 07/28/2016 / 10:21 am

    Great set up! I played with different configurations of tack for Eli and I think I have finally settled on the stuff that is in regular rotation. Took a while to get here with all the experimenting, but I am happy with what I have going on now.

    I also used to have a lot more tack, because I would be riding some random horse regularly and decided I didn’t like borrowing stuff so I’d buy whatever worked for the horse, plus all the tack for my other three horses over the years … but I sold a lot of stuff which made buying stuff for Eli a little less of a problem.


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 12:11 pm

      I pretty much waited until I bought Frankie to get most of my tack, so it has been a PAINFUL couple of months for my wallet. Hopefully we’re good to go for a while! And now I have a good base to work with ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Karen M 07/28/2016 / 12:31 pm

        That’s a good policy, though–horse first and then buy the right tack for the horse.


  7. Micaylah 07/28/2016 / 10:58 am

    I love hearing about what people go in. I want a nice french saddle


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 12:12 pm

      I love it more than I love many people in my life. Like, unhealthy amounts. It was a splurge for sure, but fingers crossed it’ll last me a good long time!


  8. SprinklerBandits 07/28/2016 / 12:03 pm

    I had that breastplate and loved how it looked, but yeah, OTTB who gets rubs from air got rubs from it. I sold it to another blogger and she has no problems with it.

    I’m sort of impressed by how functional and basic everything is. I don’t think I could do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 12:17 pm

      Haha the functional and basic is due partially to Francis being a super chill hombre and not giving a crap what I use (within reason) and partially due to all of my money going towards shows right now. I’m a show ho, not a tack ho. Is that a thing? Can we make it a thing?


  9. carey 07/28/2016 / 12:37 pm

    I just got a belly guard girth for Cosmo after we switched barns. I didn’t think he needed it, but new trainer likes all his jumpers to go in them. His idea is that they don’t snap their knees because they are afraid of hitting their chest, so the belly guard gives them security to snap up. I can see how that makes sense. I don’t know how much it has made a difference, but it does have a scratch on it, so Cosmo has used it at least once. We are jumping better now (mostly thanks to me riding better, I hope) so I think it all works together.


  10. tntibbetts 07/28/2016 / 2:14 pm

    I bought a schooling bridle from an Amish tack maker called Bartville Harness. I kind of love them for the fact that they ONLY have a store and a paper catalog and NOTHING online. The bridle is fantastic quality with no frills and was only about $90 (without reins). I am mostly committed to buying things made in the USA or Europe so this was a great find for me. Most bridles at that price point are made in South America or India. I also have an Antares and it is about third in line as the love of my life, behind husband and horses, and probably dogs.


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2016 / 2:16 pm

      Oh I am VERY interested in this bridle- good quality and no frills is just what I’m looking for! How do I get my hands on one of those catalogues??
      Antares is love, Antares is life โค


  11. aHorseForElinor 07/29/2016 / 1:12 am

    I’m OK with Dover, but mostly just for their huge selection. Shipping is awful… but I seem to always look through their catalog when it comes ๐Ÿ˜‰


  12. shelbyrallen 07/29/2016 / 8:04 am

    Amanda is right this is #TackPorn. And I like the breastplate! I always use one over fences… keeps the saddle where I want it, and the top part acts as a neck strap if needed. As far as being obsessed with a saddle… When I bought my CWD, I told my boyfriend that I loved 1) Justin 2) The saddle and 3) Him. In that order ๐Ÿ™‚


    • hellomylivia 07/29/2016 / 8:28 am

      Saddle obsession is a real and serious problem plaguing the relationships of many horse girls hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      • shelbyrallen 07/29/2016 / 8:34 am

        The important part is that the other unfortunate souls that we share our lives with understand this fact.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Stacie Seidman 07/29/2016 / 10:17 pm

    I have an obsession with my saddle too. (I have an Hermes Essentielle, which is discontinued. Very sad. I recently bought a used one just in case something happens to mine!) For a brief minute when I first got Rio (roughly 100 years ago) my vet thought it wasn’t fitting. I was like that’s really too bad, I’ll have to sell him. My vet thought I was referring to my saddle as a him, but I was actually referencing my horse. Prior to my unhealthy attachment to him, obviously. Fortunately, Rio muscled up and it wound up fitting just right. Crisis averted!
    I mostly use the Joseph Sterling bridles from Schneiders Saddlery. I love love LOVE them, and they’re very affordable. I think I’ve talked about them on my blog before even.


    • hellomylivia 08/02/2016 / 9:48 am

      Hahaha lucky Rio, glad he got to stick around ๐Ÿ˜‰ Researching those bridles now!


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