WRANGLING ON THE RANGE #167
12 WAYS TO SAVE ON TACK
by Kaylon Sullins
We all have that one friend whose tack room makes us green with
envy. Everything she has seems to be on trend (yet classic) and
well made. You can't help but wonder how in the world she was
able to put together such a collection.
Wonder no more. Below, I'll detail 12 rules to follow so that the
contents of your "horse closet" make your friends ask, "How'd she
Rule 1: Quality over quantity.
It's really pretty simple: If it looks cheap and sounds cheap,
chances are it's cheap. Instead of buying a $25 to $50 bridle
that you'll have to replace in a year or two, invest in a $100 to
$300 bridle. Quality tack looks good and lasts much longer (with
proper care). I have three bridles and a saddle that are nearly
20 years old that still look and feel nearly new, while that $25
headstall broke after just a few months' use.
Rule 2: Save for what you want.
This goes hand-inhand with Rule 1. Set a goal amount to save each
month, and eventually you'll have that awesome saddle or bridle.
I also recommend keeping a "tack jar" to collect all your spare
dollars and change. Keep it in a place you'll see it regularly,
to remind you of your goal.
Rule 3: Get every tack catalog known to man.
I think I get just about all of them-my mail carrier can attest
to that. Even though I ride Western, I still get all the English
catalogs, too. Basics are the same across the board-blankets,
sheets, grooming tools. The English tack catalog might have the
blanket you've wanted on sale while it's still full price in the
Rule 4: Know what you need, and know your sizes.
I keep a list of blanket sizes for every horse I own in my purse.
That way, when I see the random equine garage sale or other great
things on sale, I know what I'm looking for and don't have to
play the size-guessing game. Same goes for shopping for kids or
Rule 5: Know regular prices and quality brands.
I recently attended a fundraiser tack sale and picked up a $150
name-brand fly sheet in great shape for just $7. Knowing the
average retail price for the things you are interested in and the
quality name brands to look for can keep you from unknowingly
passing up a great deal-or paying too much.
Rule 6: Buy used.
I've bought $125 spurs for $10,$50 saddle stands for $5, and $100
bridles for $10. Garage sales, the Internet, and auctions are
great places to find quality name-brand tack for nearly nothing.
And by knowing retail prices (see Rule 5), you know when to spend
and when to pocket your money.
Rule 7: Buy online and in bulk.
I rarely buy equipment from the local tack or feed store. Why
spend $30 on a halter at the feed store when I know that I can
get the same one for $20 online when I'm also placing my order
for a six-month supply of dewormer (saving $4 to $6 a tube) and
fly spray (saving $4 to $8 per bottle)? Many online retailers
also offer free shipping deals.
Rule 8: Buy when things are on sale, preferably really on sale.
Get to know the market's seasonal sales. Instead of spending $150
on that turnout in the fall when demand is high and styles are
new, I wait until spring and pay 50 percent of the price and have
it ready for next fall.
Rule 9: Size matters; colors do not.
We all dream about matching blankets, halters, leg wraps-the
whole nine yards. The truth is the color or pattern might be
questionable, but the quality is not. When you do have color
options, be sure to keep in mind that neutrals (navy, hunter
green, black) match nearly every color; lime green zebra doesn't.
Rule 10: Match the herd, not just the horse.
If you happen to have more than one horse, buy things that
complement as many coat colors as possible. My new show pad
complements both my dun and my red dun. Now the same padand my
coordinating wardrobe-can work with either horse.
Rule 11: Fads come and go; classics are timeless.
It's really tempting to buy that expensive zebra-print,
crystal-embellished breast collar, but will you still like it in
five years? Probably not. Look for a more classic design with a
little bling; it'll likely be in style for the longer term.
Rule 12: Take care of your stuff.
Once you've acquired a great tack collection, take steps to
preserve your investment. Your equipment is only as good as its
current condition. Proper leather care, blanket storage, and
regular maintenance will keep you and your horse looking
glamorous for years to come.
Kayton Sultins trains horses and coaches amateur riders in
From HORSE AND RIDER - OCTOBER 2011