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Endurance riding basics: What to carry on your saddle

Here is my list along with photos showing what I carry with me when I ride.  Each person needs to figure out what works for them as we all have different needs.  I try to only carry things that I may actually need without going over-board.  If you carry too many items then it because nearly impossible to find something when you need it out on the trail.  I tend to be fairly prepared for just about anything that might happen out on the trail, while also trying to minimize the amount of weight that I am having my horse carry.

I often change some of the things that I carry by season, or by length or distance of the ride I am doing.  On most rides I also will ride with a sponge or a scoop, or both.  I will often carry rain gear or a light jacket on rides especially if I am riding in the high country.  Weather can change quickly.  Even if the sky is blue with nary a cloud in sight when I tack off I usually play it safe by bringing along my raingear.  Some may want to carry additional items like a trash bag, emergency blanket, waterproof matches, flashlight, etc.

SaddlePack 20 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

 

Spare batteries.  Remember to rotate them every so often.  Batteries often do not work as well once they have been frozen, or left in the heat for extended periods of time.

You just never know when the batteries you are using might be duds, or if you do end up out on the trail for a lot longer than you had planned it’s always a good idea to have a way to keep your gadgets working.

 

SaddlePack 21 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

 

Snacks, electrolyte or drink powder, chap stick.  I like Gu – it is easy to carry and is still good if I leave it in my saddle pack until the next ride.

I like Zip Fizz’s because they come in those sturdy little tubes which protect the powder inside but also are great to keep to put other things in.

 

 

SaddlePack 23 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

When I reuse the Zip Fizz tubes I put a piece of tape around to mark them so I know that something different is inside.  I like to put my Redmond Relyte electrolyte capsules in mine that way they are protected and also easy to find and access.

You can also use the empty containers to refill with other powdered drink mix or medications.  These would also work to hold a dose of horse electrolyte powder too.

 

SaddlePack 24 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddleOn the topic of medications, these pill organizers from the Dollar Store are perfect.  Just be sure to pack them so that anything inside can’t bounce around – so get a snug fit with your contents or use cotton or pieces of toilet paper or Kleenex to keep things in place.  It is always a good idea to carry things like Benadryl, Advil/Excederin/Ibuprofin, anti-diahrrea meds, human electrolytes and anything else that you might need.  To  make sure nothing comes open, use a rubber band to hold everything securely shut.

 

SaddlePack 26 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddleNow on to more first aid type items.  The little white plastic case is a first aid kit that I also bought from the Dollar Store.  It’s handy to carry items like bandages, antiseptic ointment, etc.  (see next photo).  I also carry a piece of rubber hose that can be used to keep your horses airway open in the event of a snakebite or other allergic reaction.  It can also be used as a splint for a finger.  I also have a bandana which can be used to wrap a wound, or to make a sling for a shoulder or arm injury.  Lastly, I have a roll of vetwrap.  Notice that there are two pieces of white tape on the end of the vetwrap?  That is so that after the roll has been in my saddle pack and mangles itself into a solid blob, I can get the roll started.  Trust me!  I keep the vetwrap in a baggie and learned a long time ago to not just put a pre-packaged roll of vetwrap in my saddle bag!

SaddlePack 27 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

Here are the contents of the small first aid kit.  Antiseptic ointment, bandaids, larger bandages, a feminine pad.  I then add a rubber band to the outside of the plastic case to keep it closed and from coming apart.  All of these first aid items fit quite easily in one side of the pouch on my Snugpax pommel pack.  Over the years I’ve tried various ways of carrying these things and found that these plastic cases are about the best – not only do they hold their shape which keeps everything inside from getting mangled but they also help keep everything inside dry.

 

SaddlePack 30 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddleDesitin.  I like to use tubes that are already more than half used that way they are less likely to leak and also pack easier.  This particular tube did spring a leak so I have the bottom end wrapped in duct tape.  Then, of course — ALWAYS put Desitin in a baggie!

I like freezer baggies because they are a bit stronger and more durable than regular baggies.

 

 

SaddlePack 52 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddleIf you were wondering where to put all of these things — well, you put the Desitin inside of your spare hoof boot, of course!

More on spare hoof boots later.

 

 

 

SaddlePack 31 168x300 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddleMore personal items – depending upon the time of year and where you ride you may want to throw in a pair of instant hand or toe warmers.  They take barely any space at all an can be a real lifesaver if you get caught out in a rain or snow storm and become wet and get chilled.

This is another one of those items that you’ll want to rotate and not leave for any length of time in your saddle pack.

 

 

 

 

 

SaddlePack 28 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

A seasonal item that is worth considering if you ride in the high country where there are mosquitoes — bug spray!  This has come in handy more times than I can count on endurance rides.  These small pump spray bottles are only a few ounces and fit quite perfectly in the front of a pommel pack, making it easy to access especially when in a hurry because the mosquitoes are biting through your clothes and driving your horse mad.  This can be used on both human and horse, so if you are having a lunch break or vet check in a wet grassy area with bugs it can make a big difference in whether or not your horse eats and relaxes or spends the entire time fussing about and being irritated.  (esp. if you have one of those spoiled rotten Nevada horses that are totally intolerant of biting insects!)

SaddlePack 40 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddleSaddlePack 41 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

Don’t forget the toilet paper! I save the rolls at home when they get down to the last 1/3 or 1/4 of a roll. Flatten them out and put into a freezer baggie and now you’ve got the perfect size to take in your saddle pack.

 

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Spare toe straps for my Renegades along with a couple of zip ties.  I keep these items in a baggie and can either put them inside one of the spare hoof boots, or in the front of my pommel pack.

Zip ties are always handy to have.  You can do all sorts of things with zip ties such as quick tack fixes (say a buckle or snap breaks) or to attach something to your saddle that you found on the trail, or maybe just use to secure something a bit snugger because it was bouncing and bothering you or your horse.  I use zip ties to attach my saddle pads to the D rings on the front of my saddle.

 

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Multi-plier knife tool.  I keep this in the front right side of my pommel pack so that I can get to it easily and quickly.  This is an essential item to have.

 

 

 

SaddlePack 48 168x300 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

 

Another really important item to have is a hoof pick.  I have mine clipped to the rear D ring on my saddle.  This is probably the most lent out item that I have.  It gets used a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SaddlePack 45 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

On the front of my saddle I have cord with cord locks that can adjust to hold just about anything clothing wise.  If I am riding with rain gear it is usually strapped to the back of my saddle so I generally will always put any jackets or sweatshirts that I take off or carry with me on the front for easy access.  You can also use bungee cord (I buy it by the yard at the fabric store for like .25 a yard) to help secure clothing items.

With this method you can get dressed and undressed at a trot!

 

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Shoe laces.  Yes – boot laces, actually.  I have a pair on each saddle on the rear D-rings.  Just loop through and now you’ve got another way to tie rain gear or anything else on.  I also have a loop of the bungee cord there that I use to help secure my hoof boot bag so that it doesn’t bounce.  You can easily tie the boot laces up to keep them out of the way.  You won’t even know they are there, but if needed they are invaluable.

 

 

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A couple feet of some thick nylon rope type stuff.  This can easily stuff into the bottom of a boot bag or other pack.  If I don’t have something like this, then I usually will throw in a strand of hay string.  Because you never know when you may need to tie a gate closed because the wire that was holding it closed just broke, or if you need to hold together some other part of your tack.

 

 

SaddlePack 43 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

I can easily fit my t.p., chapstick, hand warmers and a couple of packets of Gu in the front center pouch on my Snugpax.

Then the other items (first aid, boot straps, multi-tool, etc.) can go on each side of the Snugpax.

 

 

 

 

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Spare hoof boots!  I nearly always carry two spare boots – because of course, my horses need different sizes front to rear so I have one of each size.  Plus, if I need to lend a boot to somebody for a spare then I still have one left for me in case I should need it.

Next to the hoof pick, the next most common thing that I lend out are my spare Renegade’s.  I guess that is what happens when everybody knows you ride in boots!  Everybody should carry a spare boot even if their horse is shod.

 

SaddlePack 18 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

I have theses nifty boot bags on the back of my saddle.  Notice that I have the bungee cord going around the boot bag (with the boot in it) so that it won’t flop around.  I like to keep everything snug and secure on my saddle so that it doesn’t bother me or my horse!

 

 

 

SaddlePack 17 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

I have three bags on the back of my main saddle.  Two Renegade boot bags (made by Snugpax) and in the center is one of Griffin’s zippered bags – it’s the perfect size for holding a Size 2 Renegade.

This way I always know which pack has what size boot in it.  Now I have my two spare boots in the two boot bags as pictured.  In the third boot bag on the left of this photo I carry a baggie of horse feed with me when I ride.  If my horse is on the trail for more than a couple of hours without anything to eat I will stop at water or in the shade (if it’s hot) and give my horse a few bites to eat.

 

SaddlePack 54 168x300 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

See how nicely everything fits?  All of the items in the above photos have been put away.  The bug spray fits in the outer pouch pocket on the pack, right next to the water.  Note that I also have more bungee cord here holding everything securely in place so that nothing bounces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SaddlePack 35 300x168 Endurance riding basics:  What to carry on your saddle

Last but not least – Don’t forget the DUCT TAPE!  Here, I have wrapped a couple of feet of duct tape around a pen.  Duct tape is another one of those things that you can find a ton of uses for out on the trail.  Say your clothing gets ripped, or your metal I.D. tag on your horse’s bridle is clinging with each stride and you want to silence it without having to take it off?  Check every so often to make sure the pen still works though, that way if you need to leave a duct taped note behind you can (or write a new friend’s phone # or email down).  If you are careful with how you wrap the tape on you could probably get the duct taped pen to fit inside the length of hose, that way it won’t take up any more space.

I don’t syringe electrolyte my horses, though if I did I could carry syringes in one of the boot bags–probably the one that I keep the baggie of feed in.  I also carry two bottles of something to drink.  Usually one is water and one is an electrolyte drink of some sort.  I like Zip Fizz, Propel, Cytomax and Emergen-C.  I also supplement my electrolytes with the Redmond Relyte capsules and find that goes a long way towards my post-ride recovery.

Items that I carry on myself:  GPS, phone (if there is service), map, vet card, sunglasses.

Here is the complete list of items:

  1. Spare batteries
  2. Chapstick
  3. Gu, snacks
  4. Electrolyte drink powder (human)
  5. Medications – Benadryl, Tums, Ibuprofin, etc.
  6. First aid kit – bandaids, antiseptic, feminine pad
  7. Vetwrap (start the end with a piece of tape)
  8. Piece of hose
  9. Desitin
  10. Bandana
  11. Spare hoof boots (sized for both hind and front hooves)
  12. Hoof boot straps
  13. Zip ties
  14. Instant hand or toe warmers
  15. Multi-tool
  16. Hoof pick
  17. Spare string for tying things on
  18. Cords with locks to attach clothing
  19. Toilet paper
  20. Bug spray (seasonal)
  21. Water bottles/drinks
  22. Sponge and/or scoop
  23. Pommel pack
  24. Boot bags
  25. Duct tape wrapped on pen

 

If I forgot anything, I’ll have to get it at the next vet check!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Managing my endurance horse Bo post colic surgery

Bo two weeks post colic surgery, April 2014. He regained his weight rapidly.

I’ve only made a few small changes to how I manage Bo on a day to day basis after his colic surgery in April.  While the veterinarians and surgeon were not able to come up with a reason for the cause of Bo’s colic it was suspicious that the morning he went off of his feed (he was still eating,

Continue reading Managing my endurance horse Bo post colic surgery

Wild West Endurance Ride 2014

Bo & Karen at Wild West 2014. Photo by Baylor/Gore.

I know I haven’t blogged for a long time.  Bo colicked on April 9th and needed to have surgery for a 180 degree twist.  It was a bit of a roller coaster ride, to put it lightly.  We were very lucky that the surgery was able to correct the problem in what turned out to be a fairly uncomplicated and successful surgery.  It

Continue reading Wild West Endurance Ride 2014

Shedding time

Spring is here, finally!  I was able to get both horses fully body clipped over the weekend and speed up the shedding process.

There are pros and cons to clipping but mostly pros now that it is already mid March.  It can be a real challenge to keep the horses cleaned up when they are being worked as the weather warms up and they still have super thick shaggy coats.

Fortunately I’ve got

Continue reading Shedding time

Post Ride Recovery for the Endurance Rider

20 Mule Team 100 2014. Karen and Bo. Photo by Bill Gore.

Post ride recovery for endurance riders is not usually a topic that most of us think about. Usually after the ride is over, you just want to sit down and relax. But if you make wise use of the post ride recovery period, you will be well rewarded.

Recent studies have showed that an endurance athlete can significantly reduce the time

Continue reading Post Ride Recovery for the Endurance Rider

2014 20 Mule Team 100: One horse, one rider and a dog–a story of 100 miles through the desert with a happy ending

I always say that getting to the ride can often be the hardest part.  Last year I missed 20 MT because of my truck.  This year I was really determined to make it to the start line.  The obstacles this time weren’t as insurmountable as the last time – I only had to replace two tires on my trailer a few days before the trip.  Could have been worse, right?

You know you are

Continue reading 2014 20 Mule Team 100: One horse, one rider and a dog–a story of 100 miles through the desert with a happy ending

You could be an endurance rider if….

I first read 11 -20 on the January HITM Endurance Day show.  Then, 1-10 on the February show earlier this week.

On today’s Action Rider Tack endurance episode following a few endurance rider defining nuggets from Karen we’ll visit with Connie Berto for a chat about why she loves endurance riding so much and some of her favorite rides.  Next up Barbara White provides an update on the conditions for the upcoming Tevis Cup race following the devastating fires in 2013.  In the

Continue reading You could be an endurance rider if….

Endurance Ride Reports

Karen on Rocky at Mt. Charleston Challenge

Long before blogging was popular, I often wrote up my ride reports.  I thought I’d share some of them from a few of the rides I did on Rocky.  I’m really glad now that I wrote a lot of that stuff down.  Many of the details I might not have remembered otherwise.

I have so many great memories from the miles of trails I shared with

Continue reading Endurance Ride Reports

This is a hard post to write

I needed a few days to grieve privately before telling anybody about Rocky’s passing on Monday.  He was a one of a kind special horse.  Rocky was my 2nd endurance horse and I’d had him from the time he was just a few months old.  I had some incredible adventures with Rocky, everything from completing Tevis, all 5 days of Outlaw Trail, being overall 1st and BC at the Death Valley

Continue reading This is a hard post to write

After 12 to 14 weeks off, this is why my horses are still fit….

Researchers found that pastured horses maintained a similar level of fitness as stalled and exercised horses with a greater bone mineral content after 14 weeks. At my place, Chief is always on the move keeping Bo moving too and cover several miles in every 24 hour period.

I always love when I read new research that tells me what I already (think I) know.  This study backs up the theory behind our endurance

Continue reading After 12 to 14 weeks off, this is why my horses are still fit….