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
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.
(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
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
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)
(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?