I'm a collector. A "stuff" afficienado. And always wondering if there's something that will work "just a little better." After putting things to the test for mile after mile, you figure out pretty fast what works and what doesn't. As I write reviews about different products, I will post those links here as well. I also like to support independent, small businesses that make their product here in the USA. Here are some of my favorite pieces of equipment, and favorite vendors.
As with all aspects of life, Your Mileage May Vary in regards to brand, style, preference. These are my own personal opinions that I share only for the curious-minded.
Action Rider Tack
The Distance Depot
East Valley Equine Practitioners
Massage and Bodywork
Freedom in Motion Equine Therapy
Renegade Hoof Boots
My hoof boot of choice for a boot that stays on, is easy to put on/take off, and is designed for the barefoot performance hoof. Made here in the USA. (Yes, I work for them. But I wouldn't work for them if I didn't love the boots and the company.)
Product Review: August 2008 and October 2012
Skito Saddle Pads
I love these pads and have both the regular and DryBack varieties. They're durable, can be custom-made for your saddle, have a lot of options, and provide good support while not distorting the fit of the saddle.
Duett Companion Trail
English style, made specifically for wide, flat-backed horses. They're reasonably priced, well-made, very sturdy, and an excellent value for the money. I've had good luck with it fitting multiple horses, all with varying conformations. I've found it to be very secure for me as well, and well-balanced.
Halter-Bridle with Removable Headstall style when riding with a bit.
Western Headstall with S-Hack (No halter underneath, as I've found that shorter-headed horses can run out of space for the s-hack chinstrap to engage effectively. When I do this, I carry a rope halter for emergencies, but the horses I ride in this set-up can all lead directly from the s-hack.)
Beta with PVC-waffle padding
(And don't cut the loose ends of material off unless you are sure you are only going to use that breastcollar on that one horse...or make sure the next horse is exactly the same size.)
Moss Rock Endurance makes my favorite style. I prefer something that has the least amount of buckles and hardware possible to minimize rubbing, which is the style that loops around the tail and clips back onto the starting point. And...make sure your horse is crupper-trained. :)
Smooth-Grip Beta or Round Rope Reins
Very much a personal preference thing. I like something with a combination of grip and give; I alternate between a pair of soft round rope reins and flat smooth grip beta.
Best advice for reins? Whatever your preference, get good ones. Cheap reins will be the first thing to break on the endurance trail. Check the scissor snaps frequently -- the inner springs are the weakest part. Keep them cleaned of grit and they'll last longer without jamming or breaking.
Bits and Other Headgear
It took years to find a bit Mimi likes, and these are it. Yeah, they're not cheap. But the quality is unmatched. Beautiful balance, and a bit for just about every horse out there.
I love the padded-noseband, aluminum-cheekpiece S-Hackamore. This is my go-to piece of headgear, and if I have my preference, every single one of my horses will go in one of these. The ease of eating and drinking is fabulous for the horse, and I've felt like I've had just as much control with this as with a bit. (Caveat: The ones I've used this set-up on consistently had a good arena base and were well-versed in respecting the bit and rein cues before the introduction of the hack.)
I have a few different models of these packs: Western and English Slimline Pommels, English Deluxe Pommels, English Cantles, Unipax, and the Renegade Boot Bags. Depending on the saddle, time of year, and length of ride, I use them in various configurations and combinations. They're minimal-bounce, and adapt well to different models of saddles. .
Don't ask. I've yet to find the perfect pair of splint boots I love. Keep checking back as I go through the Splint Boot Saga.
For wild patterns and custom tights:
Just For Horsin'-Round (Evelyn's Tights/The Tights Lady)
Crazy Legs Tights
For more basic, off-the-rack:
Kerrits Flow Rise Performance Tights
Stillwater Cinch Company for mohair
Wintec Elastic Dressage Girth for synthetic
Heavy, but very stable and balanced. Very supportive and comfortable.
E-Z Ride Endurance Stirrups - Nylon
Less supportive, but lighter weight and more streamlined.
Tipperary Sportage 8500
Getting on a horse without one has never been a question to me. Always, always, always. This one is lightweight, well-ventilated, actually looks pretty sporty, and is super-comfortable.