Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tack Tip: Prepared for Minor Tack Repairs on the Trail

If you ride enough, or if you ride with poorly maintained equipment, eventually you'll have some piece of equipment break. It's usually something like a rein connector, a leather string connecting the bridle dry rotting, or maybe even a Chicago screw backing out and dropping off into the dirt where you will never find it.

Some of the potential breaks in leather connector strings can be avoided by inspecting your equipment and conditioning it as necessary. I use 100% Neats Foot Oil, while I know that many people prefer other products.

Over the years I have occasionally fixed other people's broken bridles and rein connector straps with a little repair kit that I carried in my saddle bags. But now I mostly don't ride with saddle bags unless I think I may need the items I normally carry in. So I have taken to carrying extra leather strings fed through my off side rear cinch D ring and tied with a Girth Hitch.

I take a 1/2 inch wide Saddle string that is 12 inches long and split to 1/4 inch wide strips giving me 2 one foot long strings which I carry looped into back cinch ring - see picture at left. They are out of the way and don't catch on anything but are handy to repair a bridle or set of reins. Some riders will carry a piece of hay bale string looped into their D rings the same way, but hay bale string will fray and is harder to fed through connector holes and tie off.

If you don't have spare leather strings, maybe you have an extra long string that you can cut a section off. Maybe someone is wearing lace up boots and can give you a section of their boot lace.

Last year, I saw a rider's cinch latigo break,..well I saw the afterwards of it. I rode over to a gent standing by his horse looking at the saddle, trying to figure out how he was going to fix it so he could make the 4 or 5 mile ride back in. I watched him for a minute then mentioned he could use his pants belt as a latigo, or one of his split reins as a cinch strap and ride in one rein like a halter.  The picture at right is an example of using a pants belt as an field expedient latigo.  You'll probably have to punch a hole in the belt for the buckle to make it tight enough, but if you have a decent fitting saddle, this will work until you can get back to the barn.       

It is possible to lose part of a Chicago Screw, like some that connects a headstall to a bit.  If you don't change out bits on a bridle then you may want to consider using Loc-Tite Red threadlocker or a dab of rubber cement on your Chicago Screws to keep from losing them, but if you lose a Chicago Screw, a quick fix to get you back to the barn so you can rummage through that box of parts we all, is to pop out the remaining part of the Chicago Screw if its still there (see Diagram 1 below) and run a piece of leather string through the holes (Diagram 2) then loop the leather string around the bridge and tie it with a Clove Hitch and finish it off with a Double Round Turn (diagram 3). 

If you have some good fixes for broken equipment or other tips, send them to me with pictures and I'll post your suggestions.  Safe Journey.

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