How to Replace a Broken Halter Square – Halter Repair Series

 

This post is first in an ongoing series illustrating how to use our Horse Halter Repair Parts to repair common damage to broken horse halters. In this series we’ll explore how to use basic replacement parts and tools you already have on hand to repair halters you might otherwise discard.

A few weeks ago I put out the call for broken leather horse halters and the local pony club responded- with one of the most challenging halter repair jobs- a broken halter square! Typically, a broken halter square destines a halter for the trash or an expensive repair by a leathersmith, but in this post I’ll illustrate how 10 minutes and less than $5 in parts can restore this ruined halter for many more months or even years of use.

Here’s the patient. A little rough from turnout use but still going strong, till the fatal halter square break:

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

A closeup of the area we’ll be working on. The halter square is located where the cheek piece of the halter, the noseband, and the chin meet.

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

TOOLS/PARTS NEEDED

1 A new halter square, preferably in a metal finish to match the existing hardware on your halter.

2. Chicago Screws – You’ll need to be sure your chicago screws have posts long enough to reach completely through the thickness of the leather at the cheek and nose band.

3. A drill with a bit slightly larger in diameter than the post of your chicago screws.  You can use a hole punch, however when working with three layers of full grain leather on a halter, I feel like a drill does the job just as well with  much less effort. (Tip, if your halter is very soft/oiled the drill may want to twist the leather, if this happens try freezing you halter in the freezer for 1-2 hours and trying again on the stiffened leather)

4. A SHARP blade.

5. (Not pictured) a flathead screwdriver for securing chicago screws.

Optional Items:
superglue (to secure chicago screws more permanently)
a high adhesive, flexible-drying glue (to help prevent cut stitches from unraveling)

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

1. Before removing the broken hardware, I prefer to go ahead and make my holes for the new hardware.┬á I’m starting with the cheek. Lay your halter out on a surface that can be damaged (I used a scrap of 2×4)

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

You’ll want to be sure and drill a hole at a point where the hole will be centered as it penetrates 3 layers of leather, as illustrated:

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Mark the spot, then drill a hole completely through the thickness:

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

You may need to wiggle your drill bit to be sure to create a clean hole on both sides. It’s important not to have excess leather fibers in or around the hole, as it can make it harder to tighten the chicago screws,

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Step 2.

Now that the holes have been added for the chicago screws, you’ll need to remove the stitching that holds the broken hardware in place. VERY carefully, always cutting away from yourself and working on a safe, stable surface, insert the blade into the space between the layers of leather and slice through the stitches.

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

You’ll need to cut completely through, removing all the stitches securing the halter

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

The layers will loosen from each other, allowing you to remove the broken square:

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Now, replace the broken square with your new halter square. (Try not to get distracted by photography and place it on backwards, like me!) The prettier side of the square should face the outside of the halter.

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Position your layers of leather back in place (you can add a high-adhesive glue if you’d like, like Ever Tack. This won’t strengthen the fuse, but will help prevent the stitching from unraveling)

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Ok- so chicago screws come in two pieces: the post and the screw. The screw is the piece that looks like, well, a screw. The post is the other side of the screw- a threaded tube into which the other side screws into.

Place the post side of the chicago screw through the hole you drilled. Pre-drilled holes make sure everything lines up just right:

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

If your Chicago screw is sized just right, it should look something like this:

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Now, add the screw and tighten. You’ll need to use your finger on the post end to hold the post secure so the screw tightens instead of just spinning the whole chicago screw.

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Wa la! Off center but gets the job done!┬á For a really secure connection (i.e. to use for tying and not just turnout) you’ll probably want to add two chicago screws, spaced .5-1″ apart, and secure with a drop of superglue on the inside threads to help prevent accidental loosening.

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Step 3

Unbuckle your chin strap and re-buckle through the new halter square. (If you have a fixed-chin style halter, you’ll need to repeat steps 1-2)

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Step 4:

Repeat steps 1-2 on the noseband’s side of the halter square.

drill hole, cut stitching:

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

remove broken hardware, replace with new square:

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

Insert chicago screw post, and tighten screw

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

And that’s it!

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

A not-quite-good-as-new, but CHEAP and fast fix for an otherwise unusable halter! With new hardware and a few chicago screws, this old leather halter will work great as a turnout halter.

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.How to fix a horse halter with a broken square on the noseband.

 

Stay turned for more tutorials on easy DIY tack repairs!

Have a halter you’d like fixed for free? Drop us a line via our contact us page, if you’ve got a halter with damage we think we can fix, and that we haven’t yet create a tutorial for, we may just pay shipping both ways for the opportunity to fix your halter for free!

Decorating Stand-Up Horse and Rider Sugar Cookies – Rider

 

This post is Part 2 in a series on how to decorate our Stand Up Horse and Rider Cookie Cutter. For instructions on decorating the horse cookies that match these english and western riders, see Decorating Stand-Up Horse and Rider Sugar Cookies – Horse

 

STEP 1: PLANNING

Always begin by planning your cookie’s design. Planning ahead helps to waste less icing and make more creative use of a less-detailed shape like this one. Design your own template or download our template to decorate our hunter jumper rider, cowgirl, or generic rider.

Horseback rider cookie decorating
You can start decorating these cookies with any section you choose – although you should avoid ever letting two colors of wet icing touch, so you’ll probably want to decorate “top section, bottom section, top section, bottom section” in order to allow icing to dry and prevent colors bleeding.

Areas of clothing that overlap other pieces (like boots over jeans or breeches, and hair over face) should be done in the order of back to front, to help create an illusion of depth.

The ideal order to decorate would be:
skin,
undershirt (english rider),
jeans or breeches,
then boots and hair
then kerchief and belt (cowgirl) or riding jacket (show jumper rider)

You’ll see from my photos I progressed in a different order, but the decorating process is the same.

SKIN:

To create a smooth layer of skin, outline a face and neck and then fill the space in with semi-runny icing. Shake the cookie gently to allow a totally smooth finish:

Horseback rider cookie decorating

Horseback rider cookie decorating

ADDING BOOTS

The boots look best if they are much skinnier than the width of the cookie’s leg. Exaggerate the contour of the top of the boot and of the heel, as pooling icing will likely erase some of the corners and curves.

To determine how tall boots should be, it may be helpful to fold the template into quarters and use that creases to visualize where to add icing.

WESTERN/ COWBOY BOOTS:

lp_blog_cookieh2_wrider7726

ENGLISH BOOTS:

It may help to use a food coloring marker to plan your boot before adding icing on top:

Horseback rider cookie decorating

Horseback rider cookie decorating

ADDING PANTS OR BREECHES

Preplanning and experimentation with sketching these cookies a few times showed that knobby, widespread legs turned out much cuter than following the contours of the cookie cutter shape, so I recommend using the legs outlined on the template.

Jeans & Breeches are decorated the same-

Horseback rider cookie decorating - cowgirl

lp_blog_cookieh2_erider7842

“Real” cowgirls wear their jeans over their boots- so if your cowgril has an opinion on this fashion, you may want to create short boots and long jeans! (Cowboy boots are usually only worn over the jeans in movies- most riders let the hem of their jeans cover their boots!)

Horseback rider cookie decorating

SHIRTS:

If you are decorating the English Show Rider you’ll need to add the undershirt (called a ratcatcher!) and collar at about this time:

Horseback rider cookie decorating

And a t-shirt for the western rider:

Horseback rider cookie decorating - cowgirl

RIDING JACKET:

Once the english rider’s shirt is dry, use the template as a guide to add a jacket. In order to create definition between collar lapels and jacket, add the lapels, first, allow to dry slightly, then add the jacket chest, sleeves, and tail. gentle shake your cookie to smooth and pool icing:

Horseback rider cookie decorating

HAIR:

Hair can be added at any point after the icing on the face is dry. you can add hair all at once, or add one side, wait till dry, and add the other to create the look of parted hair;

Horseback rider cookie decorating

Horseback rider cookie decorating

lp_blog_cookieh2_erider7833

 

Face and Eyes:

Although I love premade icing eyes, these cookies look best with the plain black eyes that can be quickly added using a fine tip food coloring pen.

To add facial features, first make sure the icing on the face has a hard, dry shell- preferably given overnight to set. Then draw the face and mouth with a pen containing edible ink. You can even add the names of party guests to each rider’s shirt (these make great place cards to assign seating at a party!) or add fun patterns to the boots or pants.

Mount up and Ride

Once your riders have a cull outfit and a great big smile, they are ready to be paired with their cookie steed to ride off into the sunset… err.. mouthful.
When you are finished, be sure and snap a photo and share on our facebook page!

Horse and rider stand-up cookie

Horse and rider sugar cookies
lp_blog_cookieh2_erider798

horse and rider sugar cookies

Decorating Stand-Up Horse and Rider Sugar Cookies – Part 1

 

I’d always lamented that our popular horse and rider cookie cutter didn’t have a example of how adorable this cookie turns out when decorated, so after the hustle of the holidays died down last year I decided I’d bake a batch and rekindle my nearly-forgotten cookie decorating skills, picked up during my stint doing marketing and product design full time for a cookie cutter company.

PLANNING

Lots of folks skip the planning step, but I find deliberately setting time aside to plan my decorating helps me create creative, consistent cookies and helps me use colors more efficiently.

These cookies could be decorated lots of ways, but I’ll be decorating these cookies using this template we created. We’ve made our decorating template available to download and print. To plan your colors, use markers, colored pencils, or even watercolor paints.

pre-planning sugar cookie decorations

PREP YOUR WORK SPACE:

I like to spread out on the dining room table when I decorate cookies. A plastic drop cloth provides a surface that is easy to clean and food-safe.

decorating horse sugar cookies

Set up your workspace so your template or plan is always handy – you may want to place it under the clear plastic to keep it visible. decorating horse sugar cookies

horse and rider sugar cookies

HOW TO DECORATE A HORSE SUGAR COOKIE

The instructions below feature my instructions for decorating a horse sugar cookie. There are many correct ways to decorate and only a few cardinal rules:

1. Always wait for one color of icing to form a hard, dry outside before adding another color of icing that touches or overlays.

2. Always decorate underlying colors first. (i.e. a horse mane overlays a horse neck, so the neck must be decorated before the mane is added)

 

I started with the tail on most of my horses. Using a basic flooding method I created an outline and then filled with black icing. I mixed my black to be a bit thicker, to maintain a little texture that would be natural to a horse tail.

decorating a horse cookie

 

Next I decorate my saddles. Because I want the saddles to have bumps I decorate in two stages, allowing the brown icing to dry between layers of the saddle:

decorating a horse cookie

I add hooves on many of my horse cookies at the same time:

decorating a horse cookie

A few hours later (decorating a batch of llama cookies in the meantime!) I add the saddle flaps to the saddle. Because the first icing has dried, the seat, flap, and girth stay distinct instead of pooling into one blob of icing.

decorating a horse cookie

 

On my white horses, I did the saddle after the body coat had been applied and dried. For western horses with cowboy or cowgirl riders, decorate your saddle to have square shaped flaps.decorating a horse cookie

 

ICING THE BODY:

Because it’s important for this cookie to be strong enough to stand vertically, the shape of the cutter is somewhat bulky. This gives a finished cookie strength but can make the horse look a bit strange if iced along the outline. To remedy this I made sure to ice in the contours and leave the blank spaces drawn on my template.

Instead of a basic outline, I found it helpful to break the horse’s body into shapes. This helped me visualize where I was at in the shape and also helped give the horse the distinctive curves and contours of a horse shape.

To start: a half circle at the cheek, another for the muzzle, and a straight line up the face:

Decorating Horse sugar cookies

Next, a half circle at the shoulder, a half-heart for the rear, and a gentle curve for the stifle (that’s the front of the back thigh, for you folks who haven’t groomed a real one a few thousand times! ;-) and for the front leg.

decorating horse sugar cookies

Once I have my shoulder, rear, hocks, and elbow located, I connect the curves with straight(ish) lines.

decorating horse sugar cookies

 

Though the exaggerated contours look odd on the outline, when filled in the horse takes shape as an adorable pony:

Decorating Horse sugar cookies

 

MANE AND TAIL

The mail and tail are quick and easy for these pony cookies. Plan ahead of time if you’ll do long manes, bumpy-curly manes, show braids, or cute short manes. If you are baking for a pony party, consider filling the mane and tail with plain white icing and letting your guests add the mane and tail with food coloring pens as a party activity!

To ice with a traditional method, first squeeze a few blobs onto the crest of the neck:

Decorating Horse sugar cookies

Using a craft stick or toothpick, use the tip to carefully coax the icing into points, as illustrated:

decorating horse sugar cookies

This method can be used to quickly create “clumps” of hair. Shake your cookie gently to help the peaks of icing left by your tool to settle back down into the icing.

decorating a horse cookie

The same dip-and-drag method works to create a perfectly fringed hunter-jumper style horse tail:

Decorating Horse sugar cookies

 

HOOVES:

At any point after the icing on the legs is dry, add a small rectangle at the bottom of each leg as a hoof:

lp_blog_cookies_h2_hrs863

OPTIONAL: ADDING HEARTS

I thought these sweet ponies needed a bit of extra adorableness – or perhaps I’m still under the influence of the 1980’s era My Little Ponies and think that rear decorations should absolutely be a part of everyday horse grooming! In either case, adding a perfect little heart is incredibly easy!

Just drop two equally sized dots of icing on the rear:

Add a heart to a sugar cookie

Use a toothpick to drag each dot of icing down and towards each other:

Add a heart to a sugar cookie

…Creating a perfect heart! You may want to practice this method on a piece of paper a few times- but it’s easy to pick up!

Add a heart to a sugar cookie

 

REPAIRING BROKEN COOKIES

If you roll your dough to 1/4″ thick as recommended, you shouldn’t have too much breakage- however any cookie with two large sides joined by a smaller section is more likely to break. Luckily, it’s actually pretty easy to salvage broken cookies. Just apply icing heavily to the broken edges, like glue, and press them together. Wipe away excess glue.┬á Let the cookie sit on a non stick surface overnight and when the icing hardens, in the morning, your cookie will be nearly as strong as ever.

fixing a broken sugar cookieuse icing to repair broken sugar cookie

 

ADDING DETAILS AND PERSONALITY:

What really brings these cookies to life is the expression and character added by a mouth, nose, and eyes. You can use black icing, but will have better results if using a Black Food Coloring Marker.

Use the marker on completely dried icing to add facial features and black markings like appaloosa spots or paint horse patterns:

decorating horse sugar cookies

decorating horse sugar cookies

decorating horse sugar cookies

Cowgirl cookie astride her cookie steed with spots added with a food coloring pen:

Horse and rider stand-up cookie

I’d love to know how YOUR cookies turn out! Post a comment about your adventures decorating the horse and rider cookie cutter.

8 Tips for Organizing a Fun and Profitable Horse Show

 

Hosting a horse show is lots of work- but if done well can build a positive reputation for your stable or horse related business, build community among local riders, and may even prove profitable in itself. Your best resource when planning a horse show is guidance from someone who’s organized a similar event in the past, but we’ve gathered a few tips to take your show from average to WOW.

Most importantly, remember to think of your riders and entrants as customers- a great show will generate great word of mouth, which ensures future shows will be even more successful!

1. Free Water or Hot DrinksYoung Rider with Blue and Black unique horse show ribbon

Make your riders feel appreciated and ensure riders stay hydrated on hot days by placing a clean trough or muck bucket near the entry gate filled with ice and bottled water. Make sure entrants know the water is free with a sign.

At your local discount club you can purchase 100 bottles of water for under $10, and generally it’s easy to find a sponsor to cover the cost of drinks and ice. Offer the opportunity to a local trainer or tack store to have a sign on the bucket that says “free water sponsored by [their business]” for a small advertising fee.

People are impressed by anything free, and keeping riders healthy and hydrated will help your show run smoothly.
2. Amp Up Your Ribbons

Whether it’s a rider’s first show or their 500th, everyone appreciates a ribbon that’s unique and distinctive. These days most horse shows are awarding increasingly cheaper and smaller Uniquely Colored Horse Show Ribbons Spice up a Horse Show!ribbons, but if you want entrants to pay the premium entry fees needed to make a profit on your horse show, purchasing unique, elegant ribbons is a great way to send riders home happy.

While most horse show organizers purchase from one source, we’ve sourced ribbons from small business rosette manufacturers for up to 70% less than the prices charged by the major ribbon companies. Our favorite source is BKB Gold Stamp Co, which can be reached at (417) 845-6610. Although they have no website, their color selection and prices have enabled a few years worth of unique and impressive award ribbons for our shows.

Instead of standard blue, red, and yellow try these combos for a guaranteed wow:

standard color alternative colors
1st blue turquoise/black royal/navy turquoise
2nd red hot pink/black burgundy/grey hot pink
3rd yellow sunflower/black yellow/orange gold
4th white white/black white/grey grey
5th pink soft pink/black pink/burgundy soft pink
6th green lime/black green/navy lime green

(Based on feedback from my riders who were excited to display a lime green or hot pink ribbon, but weren’t so thrilled about them being 5th or 6th place, we decided to stop printing placings on the ribbon, adding instead only the show name)

3. Prizes!

One thing that excites even hard-to-impress riders are great prizes. Listing some of your prizes on your showbill may be an incentive to draw entries from a wider area.

Lots of show organizers ask their local trainers and tack stores for donations and consider their job done- others may ask a few manufacturers and give up after a few rejections.

Having a good cause helps, such as donating a portion of proceeds to a non-profit organization, or even just using the event to promote a rare breed or discipline but in my experience as both a tack store owner and a horse show organizer, the secret to reeling in great donations is making inquiries to manufacturers THROUGH retailers.

Most local tack shops will have their advertising/sponsorship budget claimed in the first few weeks of the year and are limited in further support they can provide. Manufacturers, however, are often willing to donate products but don’t generally deal directly with the public. Ask a tack store owner with whom you have done at least semi-regular business with previously, to contact a few of their popular vendors on your behalf.

Through industry connections, we have always been able to award prizes, give thank-you gifts to volunteers, and still have items left to give away as doorprizes at our shows. If you develop a buying history with local tack stores and lesser-known tack websites like our own, you can call on the help of these professionals to help procure donations from manufacturers.

4. Focus on Fun!

It’s impossible to guarantee every rider will have a good experience, but as organizer you can do your part to encourage a less competitive and more enjoyable atmosphere, while still challenging riders to do their best and challenge themselves and their horses. Some simple ways to encourage a fun environment include finding an announcer who is a bit of a ham, adding some classes to your showbill that are just a bit silly, and hiring a judge who is invested in horsemanship and encouraging riders. Encourage your judge to, as they feel comfortable, speak with riders between classes and provide some feedback to riders who ask.

5. Market to VIP’s

Often, the support of professional trainers or boarding stable owners can heavily influence riders they work with to attend or skip your shows. Show these VIP’s your appreciation by treating them as VIP’s. That may mean help uploading, offering to do some of their entry paperwork for them, or adding simple perks like a free tack stall or free advertising.

Sale horses – often your VIP’s will have horses entered who are for sale. It costs nothing to have your announcer announce a horse is for sale when it enters the arena, but can be an appreciated perk (or even a service you can charge for).

6. Encourage Community

If a horse show is scheduled tightly and highly competitive, it can be difficult for riders to develop the friendships that lead to long term enjoyment of horse showing. Here are a few tips to encourage more community:

a. Set an example, though you’ll be really busy on show day, make a note to congratulate winners and encourage riders having an off day. Make sure your volunteers running the gate and awarding ribbons understand that’s an important part of their job.

b. Start a little later. Often horse shows start at the crack of dawn But starting your show at 9:30- or just starting with less popular classes- is a good way to give riders a chance to warm up with a little less stress.

c. Take a lunch break and provide food and seating. Hard working riders and horse show moms appreciate a mid-day break. Make sure food is close/accessible and more than just processed chips/pop/etc. Consider a caterer to bring in barbeque or sandwiches and fruit.

7. Get a Photographer

Though you might not think your show is pro-photographer worthy, even a small show has entrants who would appreciate a great photo of their horse and themselves showing. For some riders, or owners with horse’s for sale, getting a great photo of their horse with a reasonably nice backdrop could be a huge motivation for attending your show.

A stall decorating contest entry

A stall decorating contest is a fun way to build community and keep the stabling area tidy during an overnight show.

Check out local sport or animal photographers in your area. Many may attend your even and take photos at no cost to you- in exchange for you letting entrants know their photos can be purchased online.

Do make sure your photographer is familiar with horses, safe shooting around horses, and what the “ideal shot” is for your discipline.

8. Tips on Overnight Shows

If you are hosting a 2 day show, or a show with some entries coming in from a distance that requires overnight stabling, treat these riders with some bonuses-

  • Stall Decorating Contest- A stall decorating contest is a fun way to make your stabling area fun and interesting to walk through. Award prizes in categories or age groups (i.e. 16& Under – Most Informative, 16 & Under – Most Creative, etc).
  • Unofficial Dinner – Publish in your showbill that anyone coming in the night before can meet for dinner at a local restaurant at a certain time, once their horses are settled at the stables. This is a great opportunity for you as show organizer to greet and get to know entrants, as on show day you’ll likely be too busy to chat much.
  • Farthest Traveled Reward, if doing a show with a significant number of entries traveling in from our of state, a Gas Gift Card awarded to the entrant traveling the farthest can be a much appreciated prize.

 

With these 8 tips plus a prepared and courteous show staff, your show is sure to be a success and get your entrants talking! Don’t be discouraged if your first event is not as profitable as you’d hoped- word of mouth will drive increased entries and ensure long term success.

 

10 Tips for a Tidy, Trendy Tack Room

 

Your barn is a place where you will spend many hours of your life- and while the stalls and aisles are designed for your horse’s safety and enjoyment, the tack room is yours! Creating a tidy, trendy tackroom with a small desk or comfortable chair can transform this typically utilitarian part of your barn into your personal sanctuary. Here are 10 ideas to turn your tack room from a dreary, cluttered storage room to a personal oasis.

1. Cover the Basics to Care for Your Space

If you dream of a comfortable, stylish tack room, your first step should be taking care to ensure your tack room will be a well constructed space. There’s little reason to bother with decor if loose wall boards or doors that don’t close properly will guarantee a constant influx of dust and debris filtering into your tack room.

Take the time to install exterior doors with seals (or add weather stripping to existing doors) and seal any gaps in your existing barn walls. This doesn’t have to be expensive, take advantage of building-supply thrift stores like Habitat for Humanity ReStores to inexpensively purchase doors, windows, flooring, and even lighting to create the building blocks for your tack room.

tack room with windows into barn

source: Roseview Dressage
Adding windows into your barn shows off a stylish tack room interior and opens up a typically cramped and closed off space.

 

2. Choose an Interesting Color or Wall Finish

Don’t be afraid of color! Many barn owners choose white walls or even exposed, unfinished plywood walls, but painted or paneled walls are one of the easiest and affordable ways to bring style to your tack room. While the color and finish of your stall fronts and barn walls are dictated by the high durability materials required for a stable, in the tack room you can let your style shine.

Choose a soothing grey, a cheerful yellow, or make a dramatic statement with bold green, turquoise, or navy walls.

If you prefer white or natural wood walls, select an interesting texture for your walls- such as paneling bead board, or traditional car siding as shown in the image below. Beadboard can be installed for roughly the same cost as plywood walls, and costs significantly less than installing drywall.

df67a0a4b8a9a341c3dcd1aafeaeb97e

Dramatic walls are a great way to make your barn’s tack room look great. Source: RalphLaurenHome.com

3. Add Art.vintage horse poster

Vintage feed signs and old horse show posters are a great way to stylishly decorate walls. If you’re a rider who could use an encouraging word before you mount up, check out inspiring word art on Etsy.

I love this particular sign, a stylish reminder of what I personally need to hear every time I pull my saddle out of the tack room!

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Buy this sign at scoutmob.com

 

4. Organize Vertically

While bins can create easy storage, it can be difficult to find specific items in a hurry. Hanging items on the wall functions as storage and decoration- and guarantee you’ll never have to frantically dig through a dozen bins searching for a certain piece of equipment while your vet or trainer waits impatiently.

Pegboard – pegboard can be used to store a variety of hardware. For a high end look, paint, mount, and then trim the edges with a matching or contrast color painted trim.

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source: unknown

 

Velcro walls – Mounting velcro to an unused section of wall can create an easy way to store bell boots, tendon boots, fly masks, and other items with velcro.

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source: unknown

Hangers & Rods

While bins with lids are best if your tack room isn’t sealed off from the dust of the stable, hanging is the best way to store items such as saddle pads in most tack rooms. Mounting a closet rod and purchasing hangers with clips is an idea way to store english saddle pads. Western pads can be hung on an -frame style freestanding saddle pad rack Hanging your saddle pads allows air to circulate, drying wet pads, and then the pads can be easily moved and store close, once dry.

clever way to organize and store english saddle pads

Source: Chick’s Saddlery

 

5. Select Attractive Hardware

While most of us can’t afford luxury grade custom tack room fixtures, we all deserve to hang our tack investments on something a little classier than the old pony-club tuna-can bridle racks.

Hardware is an investment in your tack room that you’ll enjoy for years, so if you can’t outfit the entire room with distinctive hardware, or upgrade one section of racks at a time, choose one special area to populate with distinctive tack room hardware that will show off your favorite tack pieces.

These extra wide bridle racks hang bridles at a more natural angle, which makes the bridle look better on the rack. Available in chrome and  brass.

These extra wide bridle racks hang bridles at a more natural angle, which makes the bridle look better on the rack. Available in chrome and brass.

To minimize holes in your walls, support hooks with heavy loads, and visually anchor your bridle racks, try mounting your tack room hooks and brackets first on a piece of painted or finished wood trim, then mounting the trim securely to studs or beams behind your walls. This can make even plain bridle brackets look upscale:

photo source: equestrianstylist.com

6. Use Your Empty Space:

If you have an empty wall in your tack room, or a narrow tack room with a door that requires one wall be left blank, this schedule board is a great way to use the wall space usefully without losing any floor space. Simply section off squares using painters tape and paint your wall with dry-erase or chalkboard paint. These writable walls are also ideal for feed rooms when a dry erase feeding chart isn’t large enough.

7. Add warm Flooring

Most tack rooms include a poured concrete floor, shared with the barn aisle and grooming stalls. Adding an attractive floor is one of the fastest ways to cozy-up your tack room and create an eye-catching space. With many concrete stains and paints on the market- the sky is the limit! If you aren’t ready to commit to the cost of stained concrete for your tack room, creating a painted floor pattern or painted rug may be a fun afternoon project to make your tackroom unique and fun. Painted floors, unlike rugs or carpet, are easy to sweep and handle the barn environment much easier.

For a warmer feel in your tack room, try a painted faux wood finish on your floors:

faux wood floor - painted concrete

via indystar.com

via indystar.com

8. Create Specialized Storage:

It’s much easier to maintain organization if each type of supply or tack has a designated place it belongs. Grooming cubbies and matching prtable grooming totes are a great way to reign in the mess of small grooming supplies.

Tired of your grooming kit spilling out of buckets and drawers? Try traditional grooming totes organized on shelves for neat, attractive, and out-of-the-way storage. At LuckyPony.com, we carry both Solid Wood Grooming Totes (in your choice of finish) and Engraved Nameplates (easy to attach, request nail attachment)

grooming totes on custom shelves
source: roseviewdressage.com

 

9.  Storage for Seasonal / Occasional Use Items

Corral miscellaneous supplies like shipping boots, wraps, fly spray, and bucket heaters with designated storage. Second-hand shelves, bins, cabinets, and even lockers can provide a place to store

10. Don’t limit your furniture to outdoor grade or industrial grade- You’ve invested in a space that’s yours – so be sure and add furniture that’s useful and enjoyable. brightly painted desk makes a cheerful space to store horse records and keep a few basic office supplies handy. Use a larger table or countertop to create a workspace clean, repair, maintain, or adjust tack.

These options aren’t limited to elite barns- cabinets and countertops can be picked up at discount home improvement stores or Habitat for Humanity ReStores for as low as $25.

source: unknown

source: unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Purchasing a Well-Fitting Riding Helmet

 

Riding Helmets tend to be an afterthought for most riders, a begrudged piece of equipment that young riders love to hate and which usually gets the short end of the stick when it comes to budgeting for riding expenses.

One frequently heard question in our tack shop is “What is the best riding helmet” and my answer is always the same: The best riding helmet is the one that is the most comfortable on your head, and thus, the one you won’t mind wearing (or, won’t have to wrestle onto your child’s head every time they ride)

Beware of "hunt caps". Any riding hat without a harness is NOT a helmet. (and some riding caps even have a harness, so it's important to look for the ATSM label showing  that it's an approved helmet.

Beware of “hunt caps”. Any riding hat without a harness is NOT a helmet. (and some riding caps even have a harness, so it’s important to look for the ATSM label showing that it’s an approved helmet.

 

Personally I recommend shopping in the price range that is the most you can afford to spend on a helmet. While there is little to no evidence that expensive riding helmets like Charles Owens and GPAs protect your head from brain injuries any more effectively than entry level helmets like Troxels and DevonAire,  there is often a huge difference in the comfort, stability, and appearance of cheap riding helmets vs expensive riding helmets. Let’s discuss these three areas further:

Comfort- One of the most obvious differences in expensive vs economy brands of riding helmets is the style of the helmet lining. Luxury brand riding helmets are sold by hat size, ensuring a great fit. Many cheap helmets include layers of padding or a dial-fit system. Far from adding comfort, these extra parts tend to add irritation. Instead of producing different helmets for different hat sizes, economy grade helmets are sold in S, M, LG, etc and use padding to adjust the helmet to your head. High end helmets typically have a smooth interior that is custom sized to your exact hat size, making the helmet more comfortable to wear and easier to clean.

GPA riding helmet interior

A GPA riding helmet with custom sized interior.

An additional note on getting a comfortable fit- many brands manufacturer helmets to fit slightly different head shapes- for example, one model may fit a round head better while another model, even from the same brand, would be more comfortable for an oval shaped head. It’s for this reason that trying on MANY helmets can be a great advantage for a rider shopping for the right helmet to keep them safe and comfortable.

Stability- Helmet safety studies confirm that helmets that fit properly DO protect the brain during a fall better than a helmet that tilts or rests on your head in the wrong place.

Appearance – Though many people care about the brand label on their helmet and what that says about them (and frankly, when it comes to helmets and especially young riders, if the brand name is what gets the helmet on their head doing it’s job instead of left in the barn, it’s worth splurging.) you should actually be more concerned with the cut and sizing of the helmet’s shell.

Here’s the big secret about horseback riding helmet sizing: Even the luxury brands that sell helmets in 15 different hat sizes only create molds for a few shell sizes. The same shell may be used for multiple sizes of helmets- the shell is filled, lined, and padded sufficiently to fit a head of the labeled size. If the helmet in your size was created with a larger shell and padded excessively to fit your hat size, the resulting effect will be a helmet that looks disproportionate to your head- the “mushroom helmet” effect. This effect is less pronounced with luxury brands who have more shell sizes, but often very obvious with economy brands of riding helmets.

Again, the best way to deal with this issue is to try on MANY helmets. Every brand differs in what hat sizes they are actually casting shell molds of, so by trying on many helmets from different brands, you should be able to find a helmet with as little extra padding as possible, which will create a lower profile, closer fitting, and better looking helmet.

Since trying on multiple helmets is so important to finding a great fit, we often recommend horse fairs or trade shows even to customers in our shop looking for the perfect helmet. Shopping at a large horse fair or a huge horse show with many vendors, guarantees many brands will be available to try on and compare.

 

Tips for buying a good helmet:

1. A good helmet is investment and insurance, choose a brand at the highest end of your budget.

2. Measure your head (chart below) so you know the range you’ll need to look in.

3. Visit a very, very large tack store or a horse event with many vendors and try on as many different brands as possible.

4. When you try on helmets, if the size feels right, go ahead and adjust the harness to your neck. Does it rest in a comfortable way on your neck? Does it cover your ears?

5. With harness buckled, jump up a down, bend over, and “headbang”. Does the helmet stay put or tilt?

6. Does the helmet look excessively “mushroomed” on your head? If so, keep looking for a lower profile fit.

7. When you think you’ve found a good fit, try one more test: keep the helmet on for a few minutes (10-15 minutes, preferably) while you talk or browse the shop. If the helmet doesn’t fit the contour/shape of your skull, after a few minutes you’ll start to feel pressure on your forehead, temples, or other pressure points.

8. If your head is done growing, you’ll only have to test helmets once. Once you know the brand, model, and size that is a perfect fit for your head, you can price compare online and always know which helmet to buy when it’s time to replace your helmet.

 

To figure your hat size, use the chart below. Your “hat size” is the same no matter whether it’s a cowboy hat, helmet, cap, tophat, etc.

 

XS S M L XL
Head size (inches) 20 3/8 20 3/4 21 1/4 21 5/8 22 22 3/8 22 3/4 23 1/8 23 1/2 24 24 3/8
Head size (cm) 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62
Hat size 6 1/2 6 5/8 6 3/4 6 7/8 7 7 1/8 7 1/4 7 3/8 7 1/2 7 5/8 7 3/4

 

 

 

 

How to Trim Nylon Webbing and Seal Edges

If you work with horses, dogs, or outdoor-sports equipment long enough, you’ll eventually find that the ability to cut and reseal nylon webbing is a necessity to keep your tack and equipment safe, tidy, and well fit. Resealing edges prevents the fraying that can lead to strap failure if allowed to fray unchecked. This method works for nylon webbing, polypropylene webbing (aka “polypro”) and polyester braid.

There are a few ways to create new sealed edges, but this is the most simple method. Larger heat sources can be used, but a candle or lighter is sufficient. Caution: This tutorial involves working with open flames. Fire is dangerous. Proceed with caution. Work in a safe area on a stable surface and at no point allow the flame to touch your webbing, tools, or work surface.

Tools you’ll need:

1. sharp scissors
2. Candle or lighter
3. Webbing to be cut and resealed

Tools needed to cut and seal new edges on nylon webbing

 

First, trim any frayed tips off your nylon. The turquoise nylon in my picture has a pretty clean edge, but I’ve illustrated this step anyway. Be sure and cut all the frayed portion off, creating a new edge where the braid is still tight:

sharp scissors can cut nylon webbing

New clean edge ready to be sealed:

When sealing nylon, it's easier to seal a freshly cut edge than a frayed edge

 

To seal the end of your nylon strap, hold the end of your webbing about 1/4 inch away from a candle flame. If using a larger flame, you may not even need to hold the nylon that close. too close, and your nylon will blacken and potentially catch fire. The heat radiating off the tiny flame will be enough for the nylon to begin to melt at about one-quarter inch. Move your nylon so the entire edge melts.

To seal the ends of freshly cut nylon, hold the edge about .25 inch from a candle flame

 

This step is optional, but if you desire a straight, flat edge to your nylon, similar to what commercial cutters and sealers create, you can take your nylon, while still very hot, and press the melted edge onto a silicone or teflon surface until cooled. This will mold the melted nylon into a clean edge.

Create a clean edge on freshly cut nylon webbing by pressing the heated edge onto a silicone mat

These illustrated steps for neatly sealing nylon webbing can be a lifesaver when fitting halters or dog collars to animals smaller than the product was intended for.

DIY Easy Horse Cupcakes

DIY easy horse cupcakes with nutter butters

Pony paint and horse cookie cutters are popular party activities for horse themed birthday parties- but what if you are looking for lots of horse-themed-fun without a big mess to clean up? These horse cupcakes take the prize for being FAST and easy. Made with premade ingredients, these cupcakes come together in moments with a homemade  factor that no big-box store cupcakes can match!

Though they require a bit of supply-gathering, these cupcakes are fun to make ahead and use as a centerpiece, or you can decorate a few examples and save the decorating for a kid-friendly hands-on party activity.

black icing recommended for horse cupcakes

There are many types of prepackaged icing available now, the ONLY kind I’ve tried that will hold the detail needed for this project is this one.

Items you’ll need:
1 batch cupcakes (homemade or plain iced cupcakes from bakery.)
If you make your own cupcakes, reserve 3/4 cup icing for last step.

1 large package Nutter Butter Cookies

1 small package of Cashew Halves

1 package 1/4│ pre-made Icing Eyeballs

1 tube clear decorating gel
and either black butter cream icing (made from your reserved cupcake frosting) OR 1 tube of wiltons ready-to-go Wilton Black Decorating Icing Tube
(NOT cookie icing, as cookie icing is way too runny) OR an AmeriColor Black Food Coloring Marker
(a medium-tip black marker that will allow you to draw details on your cookies)

If you are frosting your own cookies, a simple swirl or heart shaped coil should work great. If you are using store-bought cupcakes with very lofty frosting, you may want to scrape some of the icing off and smooth the surface with a knife:

plain iced chocoalte cupcake

Step 1.

Press a cookie into the frosting of the cupcake, firmly until held in place by icing. If you’ve purchased cookies and your icing feels dry, use the Clear Decorating Gel to glue your cookies to the surface of the cupcake. Position your cookie so that one end extends off the top of the cupcake, leaving enough surface space on the other end to attach ears in the next step.

nutterbutter on plain cupcake

 

Step 2.

Pick through your cashews and select halves that somewhat match each other, and press into the icing around the top of your soon-to-be-horses head. Again, if your icing isn’t sticky use clear gel to attach. Slices or halved almonds could also work for ears, but I love the contour of the cashew ears!

 

Use cashews and nutter butters to create a horse to decorate your cupcake

Use cashews as horse ears when decorating your cupcake

Step 3.

 

Icing eyes are sheets of eyeballs made from dried royal icing. Eyeballs are incredibly hard to create with icing, so these premade ones make giving your ponies personality a cinch (and may I confess, I enjoy adding sugar googly eyes to all kinds of food! ha!)

Pre-packaged sugar eyes make eyeballs look cute instead of creepy!

Attach icing eyes by using a VERY small drop of clear gel to the back of each. Avoid over-applying clear gel or pressing down too hard, as either can make gel ooze out around the eyeball.

Add icing eyes to food by using just a bit of clear decorating gel (honey works too!)

Icing eyes always vary a little, so I think it’s fun to pick eyes that match, or seem to be looking in the same direction and pair them up. Match off-center eyes with ears pointing the same direction for a cute, distracted-looking pony.

3 step horse cupcakes

 

Step 4.

Almost done and your cupcake toppers should be recognizable as horses by now! All that’s left is to add mane forelocks and smiles! There are a couple good methods to do this part:

Option A. I mixed up a bag of premade buttercream, added black icing, put it in a piping bag with a very small tip (a #2 tip). If you made your own cupcake icing, add food coloring to the portion you set aside and use for decorating. Although royal icing is usually preferred for cookie decorating, royal icing is notorious for pooling into unrecognizable blobs when not mixed perfectly, so I recommend buttercream or cake icing for this project- it is much stiffer and will hold details.

DIY easy horse party cupcakes

DIY easy horse party cupcakes

 

Option B. If you are making these cupcakes with kids, You may want to use AmeriColor Food Writer Markers. They’re much easier for small hands to control and they leave no mess to clean up. With these markers, you’d simply draw your horses nose, mouth, and forelock with the food-safe ink.

I hope you have as much fun making these with your family as we did with ours! We made these for our staff just before Christmas this year and even our mailman and delivery guys got to enjoy them with us!

DIY easy horse party cupcakes

 

 

quick nutter butter horse cupcakes

Easy decorated horse cookie

 

pony party food - easy cupcakes

collection of horse cupcakes

 

 

quick decorated horse cupcake- arranged in arch

 

 

Selecting the Right Size Saddle Pad for your Horse

Some of the most common questions we get from new horse owners purchasing tack for their own horse for the first time is how to know what size saddle pad to purchase for their horse. Many are concerned their horse might be too big or small for their saddle pad. The good news is that saddle pads are one tack item that are typically very easy to size! Because English and Western pads are sized very differently, we’ve separated this article by discipline.

Sizing English Saddle Pads

With a few exceptions, english saddle pads are a “one size fits all” product. Though specific measurements will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, most horse size saddle pads have a 17-19 inch drop (the drop is the distance from the center seam to the bottom hem) and a 24-26 inch spine (the spine is the center seam of a pad, where the pad is folded). Pony size saddles pads will be 3-4 inches smaller in each dimension. This universal sizing is possible because of the relatively small variance in saddle size. A 15 hand horse can wear the same saddle pad as a 17 hand horse because the seat size of a saddle is matched to the rider, not the horse.

With so many different saddle shapes and features, and so many unique horses, there are of course exceptions that will prove the “one size fits all” norm to be wrong. Many times an english saddle larger than size 18 will need a larger than average saddle pad, (such as our Oversize Dressage Pad regardless of the size of the horse.

Because pads can vary by several inches from brand to brand and style to style, it’s a good idea to notice which saddle pads fit your horse and your saddle well and take note of that pad’s measurements on your cell phone, so you’ll have the information handy next time you are purchasing a saddle pad.

Sizing Western Saddle Pads

True to the same basic rule, western saddle pads are a also generally a “one size fits all” product- though the western saddle pad industry offers more options to accommodate the variance in skirt size on western saddles. The average western saddle pad will measures 32 inches by 32 inches or 30″ x 30, square, when unfolded. That means most western pads have a 15-16 inch drop (distance from the center fold to the bottom edge) and a 30-32 inch spine. Like English pads, relatively universal sizing is possible because the saddle pad is fit to the saddle.

Experimentation will be important to determine what size fits your horse best, but if you are a smaller rider with a well-fit saddle you should first try a 30×30″ saddle pad. If you are a larger rider in a well fit saddle, or a smaller rider in a saddle with a larger-than-needed seat, a 32×32″ saddle will likely be a better fit.

Finding Saddle Pads for Draft Horses, Ponies, and Miniature Horses:

Because, as mentioned above, saddle pads are fit to the saddle rather than the horse- most standard saddle pads will fit on draft horses. Sometimes draft horses in large dressage saddles may need an Oversize Dressage Pad to accommodate the width of the back and the wide-gullet saddle needed to accommodate most draft crosses.

Ponies and Miniature Horses, with their smaller riders and smaller saddles, need special consideration when selecting a saddle pad. Standard “pony size” saddle pads are generally designed to fit the 13 hand to 14.2 hand pony. For smaller ponies and miniature horses, you may need to locate a saddle that will fit first, and use the measurements of the saddle to select a saddle pad. Our Western Miniature Horse Saddle Pad measures 20 x 20 inches, while our English Miniature Horse Saddle Pad has a 15.5″ spine and a 17″ drop.

6 Easy Horse Themed Bedroom Ideas for Horse Crazy Kids

While the majority of LuckyPony.com deals in tack and equipment for the (trendy!) equestrian, occasionally our orders are for tack and hardware meant specifically to be used in equestrian decor- particularly items from our Barn Hardware category. Here are 6 horse themed bedrooms, for inspiration, that are our favorites this month:

 

Equestrian kid's bedrooms. Horse Bed  Horse headboard, fence footboard, and under-bed storage. #maderemade #horsebed #horse #horse bed

source unknown

This horse crazy kid bedroom has a big impact with a small investment. A simple white bedframe in a french country style is made horse-tastic with the addition of a handmade headboard. It looks like 1 standard 4×8 sheet of plywood was cut into the shape of a horse, painted to match a favorite horse or match a color scheme, and secured to the wall as a headboard.

Around this dramatic central piece, the room can be accessories with horse theme items or decorated in simple solids, to let the headboard be the focal point.

I love the daisies in this horse’s mane, however for a young rider beginning to compete, it would be the perfect spot to display hard-won rosettes and horse show ribbons!

I love this equestrian style girl's bedroom that has more elegance and femininity than your typical horse -crazy kid's bedroom.
(source horsenation.com)

Perhaps my favorite bedroom from this set, this girl’s horse theme bedroom uses more subtle styling, and mixes feminine prints and pinks with soft textiles and an elegant curved mirror.

Whitewashed weathered wood on one accent wall, and a doorway (to a bathrooom?) with door removed and replaced with a garden gate creates a dramatic barn-like charm in this girl’s room.

image source: potterybarn.compicture over bed is a frame, ice skates, and a rosette- would be very nice done with a beloved horse's bridle or worn open front leather boots.

Though this room isn’t distinctively equestrian, it’s one of my favorite go-to images for creating a basic interest-themed kid’s bedroom. The bones are clean, basic, and stylish, but the generic furnishings leave room for bold decorations, that can change more easily as a child’s interests change.

I particularly love how, in this photo, sports equipment is framed and displayed. In this image they use ice skates, but a well used halter, bridle, or other horse equipment would make an equally stylish vignette.

 

Horse themed bedroom for the feminine 7-10 year old crowd.

 

Another great example of very basic design and decor, brought to life with a child’s interest by displaying ribbons, themed bedding, and equestrian accessories.

 

I really like the feminine take on equestrian style, especially the display of ribbons. Sweet little girl's room.

image source: 79ideas.org

Love this horse themed bedroom! Basic linens and a dark accent wall come to life with subtle equestrian throw pillows and sweet pastel show ribbons. A hunt cap on the nightstand underlines the equestrian theme.

bright, modern teen-appropriate horse themed bedroom.
In this room, again basic bedding and neutral furniture pieces are customized to current hobbies and obsessions with a high picture rail for ribbons and equestrian accessories.

 

 

Easy sign with horse show rosettes, stained reclaimed boards, and manilla rope. Order custom color rosettes at http://www.luckypony.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idProduct=28944

(source unknown)

While not a room, this sign would make a great focal point or over-the-headboard art for any horse-crazy or cowgirl-kid! simple to create with pallets, manilla rope, and horse shoe rosettes.