Dixie's gear

Stuff that works for us:

In 2013 we switched to a Specialized Eurolight saddle.  I also found it on the endurance.net classifieds and I'm delighted with it.  It needed fleece, so I went with a fleece seat saver and velcro fleece leather covers from American Trail Gear.

I also swapped out my breastcollar, crupper, and stirrups for ATG stuff, and everything matches now. ATG customized the breastcollar for me - Dixie's build plus the way the Specialized fits means that the little straps from the Y to the saddle need to be really short, and they gave me shorter bits of biothane after they saw how the stock breastcollar fit.  The crupper tail piece is very soft plastic, and all the hardware on both pieces is stainless (no more green spots!)

The stirrups are super snazzy looking, with biothane cages to keep my feet from ever going through the stirrups.  I ride in running shoes, not heeled shoes/boots, and I feel safer with cages.  The biothane is soft and doesn't irritate my toes.

I have a lot of Griffin's "house brand" stuff. I love my pommel bag - the main pouches are incredibly roomy and the zippers are huge and easy to work. There are small side pockets with sturdy velcro for your ride card, and there's a very small velcro pocket in the center piece. I've also got a Griffin's half bale bag, a crew bag, and a giant scoop.

For headgear, I use a rope halter and snap-on biothane bridle. My snazzy new halter came from Mrs. Mom's mad scientist laboratory at The Asylum Creations. I loves it! It's made of paracord, so it's a bit thinner than the rope halters you're used to seeing. The crownpiece and noseband are "padded" with a wide woven strip of contrasting cord, so it doesn't "bite" as hard as you'd think, and the colors are amazing! I snap a Zilco bridle on top, with extra-long climbing-rope reins snapped on.

I mostly ride with a short-shank Myler bit.

Dixie is barefoot and competes in Easyboot Gloves.  I do my own trimming and usually buy direct, but if you're in Northern California you can work with Nat, or in Reno go to Tami.  I love Gloves, but I warn everybody up front that they might not work for you.

Stuff that didn't work for us, or doesn't work anymore, or worked ok but I switched to something else:

Dixie's saddle was a National Bridle Tennesseean endurance. I bought it third hand, for $300, off of the endurance.net classifieds. Needless to say, it's amazing that it's worked so well for us for so long. The features I used to like: western style, cordura fenders, Y rigging, no horn.

I used a Professional's Choice saddle pad I picked up at my local feed store. It's got withers relief, cordura on top and neoprene waffle stuff on the bottom. It doesn't slip, like the previous pad did. Not so easy to clean, so it's rarely cleaned.

I used nylon uncaged EZ-Ride stirrups. They rock.

Her breastcollar is a Zilco. I didn't like it. It's got brass hardware, like almost all breastcollars, and she has green stains on her shoulders where the rings touch her coat. Other than the nasty green stains it works ok. Her crupper is also a Zilco. She doesn't sweat enough on top of her butt to leave green marks, and I like the tailpiece material a lot, so that's an A+.  I like the softer material in the ATG crupper better.

We started out in strap on Renegades.  I liked them, and I recommend them to a lot of riders - Gloves are a pain if you don't love trimming!  If you're in northern/central California, hook up with Mel for sales/fitting.

I have a Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS. It is way out of date! I got it for $30 at an REI Garage Sale and I absolutely got my money's worth out of it, but the battery just doesn't last long enough.

Anything made of leather. Screw leather. You have to clean it meticulously. When my biothane gets crusty I put it in the washing machine (no spin), or in the floor of the tub while I shower. That's it, that's all the maintenance I have to do.

I tried a Toklat Woolback pad for over a year, but it didn't work out for us. It was a high quality product, and they work for a lot of people, but not for Dixie. I didn't use inserts, and after going up and down a hill or two the pad would slide on her back, but grab on the fleece bottom of her saddle, and it'd end up in a wad in the middle of her back.

Sometimes Dixie interferes, so I tried bell boots. I got Pro Choice No-Turn Ballistic Nylon Bell Boots from a local store. Read the description! "These innovative bell boots are made with DuPont's original ballistic nylon, a material used in the manufacture of bulletproof vests." That's bullshit. She ripped them up in TWO TRAINING RIDES. The manufacturer was like "oh well" when I emailed them about it. At least the Pro Choice saddlepad works.

I started out in a side pull rope halter, but Dixie hated the side pull action. It just irked her to have her nose pulled on instead of her mouth. And I did two years with a D-ring single-joined snaffle, but we had no brakes at competitive rides. The Myler lets me stay out of her mouth most of the time, but gives me the "I mean it, pay attention to me!" I need when there's 50 other excited horses around.

I got some really cheap knock-off caged wide-tread stirrups, but they failed utterly. My feet went numb within the first two miles on the two test rides I did. I think Easycare puts magic inside their stirrups.

A lot of people love Stowaway packs, but mine didn't hold up well. The zipper teeth are too fine, and the pack I used had the zippers placed where they got grunged up with dirty horse sweat and were impossible to unzip. Maybe if you're a more conscientious horse cleaner-upper, they'll work for you.


  1. This tab is a great idea, good tool to get out the word on what works & what doesn't. Might have to copy your idea :-)

    1. Thanks! I'm working on one for all the weird abbreviations we use in endurance, and eventually I'll start one about my gear (clothes, etc.)

  2. I love these new tack pages! I just wish yours had photos.

    ~lytha with the busted camera (*sob*)

  3. Hi, I'm not affiliated with these guys but I do own a few of their tack items, mostly because like you I'd prefer metal other than brass. Their's are stainless steel and while I haven't used it as much as I'd like to have it seems to be fairly tough and well made.



Feel free to comment!