Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Oh, Baling Twine, How I Love Thee!

So, as I was having a lovely ride about a week and a half ago, one of the snaps that attaches the breast collar to the saddle broke.  I could chalk that up to the very forward motion Nimo was giving me (we cantered, by ourselves, out in the middle of a forest!) or it's possible that because I have never really cleaned it in the several years I've owned it and I abused it by taking it through innumerable streams and Nimo sweated on it copiously, that the metal failed due to neglect.  Regardless of the reason, I was left snapless.

I should mention that there are a number of tack and feed shops within 30 minutes of where I live, and I'm positive that several or even all of them carry a snap that would have worked as a replacement.  I think I probably even own a spare snap that would have worked, but finding it would have required me to clean the garage, so I opted for an alternative solution - baling twine!

I think that repairing my tack with baling twine puts me in a whole new class of horse people.  Depending on where you are in the continuum, you may see this as a positive or a negative.  However, it really opened up a door for me.  I really want to buy a biothane breast collar, but I've been hemming and hawing about it, partly because I can't commit to a color and partly because I want to make sure I'm happy with the fit.  Nimo is unusual because the saddle sits quite far back, relative to other horses.  That means that the straps that connect the breast collar to the saddle are too short to give me the fit I'd like to see.  I'll try to show you what I mean.  Here's a picture from last October that is cropped to focus on the breast collar area:

You can see that the breast collar doesn't follow the line where the shoulder meets the neck.  The straps connecting the breast collar to the saddle are at their longest, and it is still several inches from where it should be.  I will say that Nimo has never shown any soreness or discomfort, but I know that as we start to go longer distances, things that aren't a big deal can become a big deal.  I'd like the breast collar not to be one of those things.

And I really do need the breast collar.  What with dogs chasing us and crazy mountain climbs, plus Nimo's changing weight that has made the saddle slightly too wide, the breast collar really is essential.  I'm actually convinced that it saved me from being dunked in the water on Saturday.  A friend and I rode out at Manassas Battlefield in what is apparently the step-child section of the park and is therefore lacking maintenance.  While we have had some nasty ice and snow this winter, there were an unusual number of trees blocking sections of the trail and in one case, a tree blocked the only exit from a stream and there were literally no options except to jump the tree (it was probably around 4 feet high) or go up a 90 degree muddy bank that was probably 4-5 feet high.  Because neither my friend nor I were riding advanced-level eventers, these options were not promising.  However, my friend's horse is actually a pretty brave guy and he, in fact, did go up the side of that bank.  Nimo remained unswayed by peer pressure until his buddy started to continue on down the trail.  At that point, he decided the bank was worth a try and we did go up it.  I'm not really sure how - watching my friend's horse do it didn't really improve my comfort level - but there was no slipping or loss of traction.  However, if I hadn't had a breast collar on, I'm positive my saddle would have slid right off my horse's butt.

Anyway, so back to how the baling twine has opened a door.  I realized that I could just replace BOTH straps that connect the breast collar to the saddle with baling twine.  That way, I could adjust the breast collar the way I want it and try it out before I custom order one.  Eureka!  (Or, I could just keep using the twine and save myself $150...)  I'll let you know...


  1. Yeah, you're in the right sport. We don't bat an eye at baling twine. Bonus points if you find some that matches your colors. ;)

    ATG's breastcollars are cheaper than the Zilcos, and they're a custom shop, so they can make it to your specs. I bought my blue breastcollar at the convention last year, but the collar-to-saddle straps were too long - opposite of your problem. I posted a pic on Facebook, they noticed that I'd doubled up the straps, and they sent me shorter ones - I just love them, they're both awesome ladies.

    Dark horses look amazing in bright red! ;)

    1. Thanks for the tip about American Trail Gear - I had sort of forgotten about them, so now I've got someplace else to look and drool over tack:) And it looked like they had a bigger color selection than other places too.

      And yes, red is definitely on my short list of colors:)

  2. Oh my god I just noticed that awesome medieval-style pad!! Eeeee!!!

  3. I loved this post!! I fix everything with baling twine. Which reminds me I keep meaning to put baling twine in my saddle bags and I keep forgetting...

    And like Funder, I love your saddle pad. I did go and check them out on the website you mention in your "Equipment" tab!

    1. I think those medieval pads might be in short supply, maybe being discontinued? I noticed it looked like they might be on clearance, so it's possible that I feel the urge to purchase yet another pad that I don't really need because I love those pads!