How to carry stuff

I tend to be either the type of person who is totally prepared, with checklists and training and thoughtfulness galore, or caught totally flat footed. There’s no in between for me really. Case in point: my ride a week or so ago, I hopped on with no saddlebags, only anticipating a quick spin through the woods. Tarma lost a Scoot boot (it’s still out there, alas) and as I had no saddlebags I had no spare boot to pop on her.

Since I started catch riding a few years ago to now, I’ve cycled through about 10 different saddlebags. All horse folks collect something or other, and bags are what I hoard. I mean, collect. I’ve had everything from Stowaways to Cashel to a little handmade English pommel bag, nothing has stuck with me for long…until Horse Bums. I have two similar but slightly different bags from her, as well as a Stowaways boot bag for short rides. Each HB bag can switch to be either a cantle or pommel bag fairly easily. I usually only rode with one set at a time, unless we’re going on a longer practice ride.

My first bag from Horse Bums is a slightly modified Traveler, with one drawstring boot bag on one side and a zippered pouch with a mesh bottle pocket on the other. I had custom patches made of Flash and Cyrus from an Etsy seller and she added them for me. I also had her add on a multi tool in a side pouch for quick access. This bag came with an English saddle cantle attachment piece that I’ve removed as I’ve added D rings to my saddle.

My second set I find myself using most often is another modified Traveler, with rainbow trim, but this time with two drawstring boot bags. I chose these over the zippered pouches as I find the drawstrings easier to stuff full and less likely to break. I had her add on jacket straps, a mesh pocket for horse treats, and a tool holder for my hand loppers. I also made the middle bag removable (held on with heavy duty Velcro) in case I want a lighter bag or to put something else in the middle (that I haven’t figured out what that could be is fine right?)

I’ve ridden in the dumping rain and most things in these bags are still dry enough, and they provide plenty of space while tightening down enough to avoid bounce. My main struggle currently is using attachments that go on and off quickly, as I don’t like leaving bags on for lessons and arena rides. That said, these bags have plenty of extra D rings and endless ways to attach, I seem to do it a little differently each time.

For most rides, I pack a spare boot, a random assortment of ties and Velcro straps, duct tape, vet wrap, a first aid kit (I usually pack my own), water in a bladder with a hose (easier for me to drink from at a trot than a bottle), horse treats, snacks and a multi tool. I can add more human food, more water, various tools such as loppers and a hand saw, LMF, sunscreen, fly spray and the like and still have room left over. I purchased two bags as I have a vague goal of through riding, or camping out of my saddlebags one night. I’ll need room for all the normal daily stuff, as well as a sleeping bag, a small stove, horse food such as LMF and alfalfa cubes, dinner and breakfast at least. If backpackers can do it, so can Tarma and I… eventually, and the Horse Bums bags will be all I need.

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After years of borrowing horses, working to ride and catch riding, I finally have my own horse, a spicy chocolate mare...but also a demanding day job (who doesn't?), a nerdy husband, a soccer loving kid who needs to be parented (by me, duh), and the ultimate trail buddy, a chocolate Labradork!

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