Confessions of a Tack Hoarder

by Kristie
(Phoenix, AZ)

1977 Saddle Collection

1977 Saddle Collection

As I enter into what I like to refer to as my third era of horsemanship, I look around and it dawns on me that although I no longer own horses, I could easily tack up three of them.

This new, third era began when I made the decision to start riding again. After weighing all of the possibilities, I have opted to lease a horse.

I arrived at this decision too late in the season here in Arizona to do much trail riding, so I am in the process of getting things together and leasing a horse when autumn brings cooler weather.

I did some research and discovered one of the requirements from the stables I checked into is that you provide your own tack. One stable requested both saddle and bridle, while another wanted me to use their bridle and bit, which actually made sense to me, and provide my own saddle.

Since I still owned the saddle I used during my first era of horse ownership, I didn’t see a problem with that requirement. I dragged out my old saddle to try it out for size. I had a lot of miles on that saddle and was looking forward to putting it to use again. The sight of it brought back many fond memories.

My husband steadied it while I very awkwardly mounted. It was not a pretty sight. Did I really expect the saddle I rode during my first era of horsemanship at the tender age of 16 to be a proper fit for the backside of the same woman at the still tender age of 55-plus?

Sadly, I did and even sadder, it did not. In realty, this wasn’t much of a problem. It was the green light for me to purchase another saddle and to begin hoarding tack.

I found a nice saddle with a good brand name up for bid on an online auction. The seller must have been a fellow tack hoarder because she had two almost identical saddles she was getting rid of.

I won the first one with a bid that was well below its worth and noticed that her second saddle was going at a bargain basement price, so I started bidding on that one, too. Fortunately for me, I was outbid during the final seconds of the auction. How many saddles do you need when you don’t own a horse?

Without a horse to specifically get tack for, I’m left with buying an assortment to fit an unknown horse of the future. The new saddle did not have a girth, so back to the online auction where I found someone selling four different cinches in one lot.

This was a perfectly sensible purchase, no matter what horse I ended up with one of these cinches would be sure to fit. I had a bunch of bridles that I was planning on cleaning to resell, previously purchased with a large box of miscellaneous used tack.

Now I am the proud owner of four of them. Of course, they all needed bits. If this were an audio story version, this is where you would hear the “ker-ching” of a cash register. Since you never know if your horse would do better with a hackamore, let’s hear another “ker-ching” followed by a few more for Chicago screws, conchos, curb straps and reins.

Looking back, I realize my tack hoarding began shortly after my first horse. He arrived with all the necessary tack needed for one horse and needless to say, it was all the most economical quality the horse dealer would part with; rope halter and lead rope, cheap bridle with utilitarian curb bit, saddle pad, and even cheaper plain brown saddle with wood stirrups and no brand name. With limited funding from my after-school job, upgrades were slow in coming.

If I remember correctly, the first purchase was a set of braided reins in red and brown cotton. Shortly after that was a new curb strap for my bridle as my horse could easily pull the braided reins through my fingers and give me rope burns. The saddle was a major upgrade.

It was a used Bona Allen and I traded my old saddle along with fifty dollars in quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies for it. This is, by the way, the same saddle that no longer fits.

When I sold my second horse, a small Arab mix mare that I had trained myself, I was left with two western saddles, a bareback pad that had never been used, an all-purpose English saddle, five bridles, half a dozen bits, and a good collection of miscellaneous items.

I sold everything except for the Bona Allen saddle and my favorite one-eared bridle. Due to my diligent tack cleaning & oiling, these items remained in my father’s garage in excellent condition until he proudly delivered them to me when I purchased my first home with a garage six years later.

After a marriage and move into the country on five acres of land, the second era of horsemanship began. With two incomes from full time jobs, it was much easier to start tack hoarding again.

After about ten years of owning horses during this phase, my schedule became too busy to allow much time for riding. With two wonderful Quarter horses sold, it was time to get rid of the tack, again. There were three western saddles, one English saddle, one Australian saddle, another bareback pad that had never been used, (they always seem like such a good idea), nylon halters, two halter-bridle combinations, four western bridles, two English bridles and gobs and gobs of horse related accessories.

I had everything from a grooming vacuum, to a small ground driven manure spreader. Tack hoarding is seldom talked about, except in obscure corners of western stores and feed stores, but there are a lot of us out there. The yard sale was a huge success!

Now I am starting down that old familiar road once more, as my third era of horsemanship approaches. My eyes can pick out tack at a garage sale like a flying hawk can see a rabbit from a mile away.

During my last outing, I found a pile of worthless halters and nosebands – nothing I would want. The owner, however, after seeing my interest proudly pulled out a nice saddle that needed some cleaning and she was only asking $75 for it – who could resist? Definitely not a hard-core tack hoarder!

And, as luck would have it, I just happen to have an extra cinch.

© 2012 Kristie Allison

Comments for Confessions of a Tack Hoarder

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May 11, 2012
Western Tack
by: Stephanie

I must say that it is very easy to become a tack hoarder. I have one horse and I could easily tack up three. **

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