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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A splurge, or not a splurge?

At the end of last year I examined my beloved haf pad (and I say "loved" because I haven't used another pad at an endurance ride since getting it!) and found that the little magical sympanova bumps on the underside of the saddle area were flat! 
Not good news!
How good the sympanova work it's magic, cooling the horse's back if the little bumps are flat????
The answer is, it can't of course.
To confirm this bit of miserable news I called Action Rider Tack, and they confirmed that I needed a new one for anything longer than a training ride. 
I moaned and whined.
Surprisingly, it didn't change the fact my pad was worn out. 
I decided in the spirit of a new, financially prudent Melinda, (vet school is close enough now it's REAL and I need to start squirreling the money away if I have a HOPE of keeping Farley while I'm in school) that I would save up for the pad - put away a certain amount of $$ each month that was designated for tack, and at the end of ~6 months I could buy the pad.
Here's the problem:
Fact #1:  The tack budget is just the right size to accommodate those pesky little items as they come up - a new sized girth for a new sized Farley, for instance.  It is NOT a generously sized budget that will allow me to have a haf pad in a reasonable amount of time.
Fact #2:  I have a 100 coming up in exactly 25 days.  With the haf pad out of commission that leaves me with a older woolback and a skito pad.   I was ADAMENT that I was going to make it work.  But here's the issues: 
  • Woolback: I've never used the woolback for longer than an LD.  It's bulky.  It's HUGE, and there's always a lot of sweat underneath (not a huge deal for a ride in February but still...).  It's not new and fluffy - it's old and compacted.
  • Skito:  New.....but I never felt like it gave much protection.  It compresses too much.  I've used it for a multiday (2 days, 50 miles each) and a 65 miler.  It was using this pad that I first noticed the heat bumps and I've never had them as bad as when I used the skito.  Do I trust it for a 100?  I'm not sure. 
Here's the bottom line:  I know the haf pad works over a long distance (did Tevis training AND 68 miles of Tevis in it, with no problems once I sewed the trim.  Then did 2 50's at the end of the season).  I know the that heat bumps are minimized/non-existent when using this pad.  I trust this pad.  I'm invested in this 100 mile ride - besides the entry fee, this is the longest drive I will do for a ride all year (5-6 hours of driving).  A lot of time and energy. 
When I look at it objectively, the haf pad is less than my 100 mile entry fee.  And it could make the difference in my horse's comfort and probability of finishing. 
I decided it was worth it to "splurge" for the pad and ordered one from "Healthy of the Horse" this afternoon.
I'm contesting it's not a splurge - it's the cost of riding a 100 miler. 
I like wool on a saddle pad, and I know I could probably get a longer life out of a similarly priced woolback, however, I strongly feel that using the sympanova keeps her back cooler, which I'm willing to pay for, including buying pads more often - especially now that I know that keeping her back as cool as possible AND slowing cooling back is key to keeping the heat bumps to a minimum. 
Here's my question:  Make me feel better!  Please describe something that most might consider a splurge, that you contest is a necessary part of your riding!
Here's the list of items that I'm not willing to cut corners on, that I feel or integrel to my partnership with my horse - even with my vet school $$ saving lifestyle:
  • Saddle pad
  • Bit (she must be happy in it - no tossing head.  Must also have brakes throughout entire ride - which is why I have 3 or 4 bits that I like to transition throughout the ride)
  • Girth (must be a natural fiber - wool - cord girth).  Farley galls easily.


  1. Well...I was going to tell you to just buy the darned thing, but see you have so GOOD FOR YOU! Here is how I look at it. I have tack room full of crap that I can't use, won't use, don't like stuff. Why? Because I'm always trying to cut corners to save money, then when I do I don't like what I ended up with and GUESS WHAT? I turn around and eventually buy the thing that I really wanted anyway, so I've ended up losing money on the deal. And since you brought the question up, I just splurged on a second endurance bridle from Running Bear about ten minutes ago. I liked the one that I got a few weeks ago so much that I wanted to grab one of the few they had remaining before they were phased out. So I've splurged on something I like.

    Happy you got what you needed. Consider it essential equipment.

    I've only got one more really big splurge and I don't forsee me doing it for at least another year and that is my( you see I've already claimed emotional ownership in one) Eurolight Saddle by Specialized Saddles. I rode one, I felt so balanced, and I didn't get short of breath carrying it from horse to saddle rack. Gotta have one. ~E.G.

  2. When I buy a tool, I buy a cheap tool. If it works okay, great. Money saved. If it EVER breaks or fails me, I trash it and buy the most expensive replacement I can find.
    If you have tried other pads that don't work, give it up and buy the one that does.
    Oh, and any tack bought because it's pretty, is a splurge, no matter what.


  3. You did the right thing. I was working up to a private message to tell you to buy the pad! There are just somethings that you cannot skimp on. If you had time to explore and train in a variety of new pads you would still be back to spending money. Equipment wears out and must be replaced.

    Feel good that you know what works for you and Farley.

  4. Are you getting a tax refund? Pay yourself back out of that!

    I just bought Dixie's very first blanket, and I feel just a teeny bit like it's a splurge. She lives out, grows enormous masses of fur, has two three-sided sheds for shelter, and never, ever seems cold. But if I'm going to haul her to rides, then ride her sweaty, then tie her to a trailer - it's just not right to ask her to do that without a blanket.

    For me, the line is "is it nice, or is it keeping my horse healthy?" An awesome new purple biothane bridle with rhinestone flames on it would be nice to have. It's not a NEED until her two leather bridles break, chafe her, or otherwise become unsuitable. Same with a new saddle - her back's not sore, so far. If her back comes up sore, I'll start the Saddle Quest.

    If a new haf pad is going to keep Farley from getting injured, it's a good buy. It's admirable to save up for it, but you can't explain to the horse that she's hurting cause you didn't want to spend the money. :)

  5. A second Supracor saddle pad, to have one for each horse. Then found the husbands horse does better with the thin pad from Specialized. But will keep the $200 extra Supracor.

    Hubby splurged on expensive NATURAL sponges, even though our Wal-Mart sponges worked fine to me.

    A Zilco bridle for hubbies horse, evenb though I had a different beta one that fit. I thought he would look better in Dark Blue. lol

    I'm sure at convention I will splurge on things I don't REALLY need. But I'm taking used tack to sel, so it makes things balance, right?

  6. Good tack is a necessity, not a splurge, in my opinion. Saddle pads are something I always am willing to spend money on, because they are a vital part of the horse's comfort. I love my Skito pads, and have cheerfully forked over the money when it's come time to get new ones because they work so well for me.

  7. I'll agree with you on the bit for sure. I've been known to splurge on those...

    My other "most important" piece of equipment is my reins. If those fail on you, you're in big trouble...

    And I think you made a good choice buying the pad. It's not splurging if you are thinking of your horse's comfort. :D

  8. As you said, some items are worth more than what you pay for them. To make sure that Farley is comfortable on a 100 miler is priceless. Plus, not many 20 somethings like us ride so think of it as money much better spent then hanging out at a bar on Friday like most people our age would spend it :P

  9. OK - I already feel better LOL. I've NEVER bought something for my horse because I thought she would look better in the old color than the new.......LOL. I think any color looks good on a bay. :) (can you tell I'm biased?)

    So I really should do a post on all the stuff I bought first to try and save a few dollars, and it almost every single case I had to go ahead and buy the real thing.

    EG - good luck on your saddle splurge! I finally own my dream saddle and it was worth every penny.

    allenspark - I really like your idea - buy cheap once. I will be using this... I've tried most of the major pads onthe market and this is the one that works the *best* for me. My struggle is that the other ones worked "OK". But I don't think "OK" is good enough for a 100.....even if I can't point to a time when they made my horse sore. Just not worth it!

    funder - you DEFINATELY need a blanket for rides. I went to my first ride without a blanket. it was a warm day (in the 80's) but I was shocked how cold it got, and my usually fine horse, got cold just standing there. After getting yourself a waterproof blanket, consider getting a cooler next - worth every penny. Maybe I should do a post on what I consider essential endurance equipment?

    Breanna - I've had TWO pairs of reins disinegrate on my DURING a ride - and that number doen'st include reins that that fell apart during conditioning. I learned quick in my first year that sturdy reins were a must. I had them on my list at the bottom of the post, but then took them off because I'm willing to buy cheaper reins and I'm flexible on the exact type as long as they meet specific requirements - synthetic, clips on end, continuous, long enough for her head to reach the gound. Currently I alternate between a pair of round and a pair of flat rope reins.

    OntheBit - so very True!!! I'm planning on going to your blog to comment on your "Saddle Diet" but I probably won't be able to until this weekend. Please accept my deepest sympathy on your saddle situation! Even though I'm not able to comment on your blog as much as I used to....I'm there with you every posting.

    Whew! sorry for the long comment. I'm actually shocked that this generated so many comments! Not complaining but WOW! I knew i needed to find a Wifi conection and respond ASAP so I'm in McDonalds treating a headache wth salt, fat, and caffiene and desprretly trying not to forget everyone's comment I wanted to respond to!

  10. Mel, you asked a question! I've noticed that I get like 5x more replies to entries where I ask a question than ones where I just report my doings.

    I actually bought her a fleecy blanket AND a waterproof blanket. The waterproof one is backordered til March, but the fleecy under-blanket came today. I'd love a 100% wool cooler, but I haven't seen one on sale yet, and I'm not sure I have to have it yet. I have a wool rump rug... we'll see how it goes.

    Enjoy your $.99 sundae :P

  11. I think a good saddle pad is definately a necessity item. If it can affect your being able to finish a ride, or not, it goes into the necessity category for me.

    My big trauma last year was I found out my saddle wasn't fitting my gelding and was causing issues.

    I was right in the middle of a big push to pay off the Visa, when I had to buy a new saddle! Talk about blowing a budget.

    EG- I bought a Specialized and love it. It was a good thing too, because I ended up using my mare instead of the gelding and I would have been looking for saddle #2 if I hadn't gone with the Specialized.

    Karen W.

  12. Endurance Granny and Karen W: I bought my Specialized Eurolight 2 years ago--it's not a splurge, it's an investment in my horse's comfort. And mine. Love it, love it, love it. Last year I bought another one (used, much cheaper) for Jim so he and his horse could be comfortable too.

    Funder: leather bridles, I hope you were knocking wood when talking about the leather breaking because it will. And if you ever find a purple biothane bridle with bling flames I hope you will tell ME all about it because I will buy it. I am a complete fool for purple and shiny.

    Mel: beta biothane reins will last forever, a good investment (also, it comes in purple). The buckles WILL break (ask me) so I carry extras, plus zip ties for field repairs.

    Crazy splurge that makes sense to me: reflective purple flames for my helmet. Lights up like a Xmas tree in car headlights (SAFETY!) and looks so very flash. Purple + shiny = must have.

  13. I might just need a 12-step program:


    Phebes has a royal blue racing bridle, a black racing bridle (both for sale by the way and cheap too!), a black endurance bridle (love it) and a silver endurance bridle on order, and various red "things" on order. Since we ride slow and aren't seeking the ribbons, my joy comes from dressing her pretty :) I'm seriously considering sparkle paint for her hoof boots.... have my undying sympathy and complete understanding. But at least you are able to hang with one flaming color *lol*

  14. I actually rarely splurge, my tack room has very few items in it that were not given to me (and most of those I don't use).

    However I am big on impulse buys! Or "it was too good of a deal to pass up!" I am in the middle of buying one of those! I found an AmericFlex almost brand new for $850. I couldn't not buy it! Of course the irony being that I have now stopped riding but am in the middle of paying for this saddle.

    Other then that I always put off buying new things for my horses, and generally just make due with what I have. I am deffinatly more likely to splurge at the tack shop then online though. Not sure why.

  15. Everytime I try to buy something cheaper to save a dime, I end up going back later and buying the "good" one anyways, then I kick myself for not doing that in the first place. I have a tack room of crap as well, combined with my husbands crap. We have everything from english and western show equipment to horseback archery targets and gear. This past winter, I hauled a bunch of stuff out of my "MISC" tack bin and brought it the consignment shop. I sold all of it and I was able to buy a few things I desperately needed. Then I got into a frenzy when I got that check from all the "junk" tack I sold. Pretty soon, I was addicted and then sold a bunch of tires/rims and an old tailgate from our old pick up. I was finding all kinds of things to sell. My husband was wondering if he would be next...Thankfully I have pretty much run out of most of the stuff I need to sell but it did help fund a few needed things for endurance and I didn't feel so guilty. My budget is pretty tight these days so I have to be careful.

    A few things I consider absolute needed items? First , a good fitting saddle(which I now have thanks to Mel!), along with a good saddle pad.. those two are no brainers for most of us riding endurance. A Mohair cinch is a must and for JB, good hoof protection. I used Easy boot epics and while they aren't cheap, I have been able to get by with a new pair per season. I have considered the beta/biothane halter/bridle set ups but honestly, I am pretty attached to custom bridle/rein set up. I lucked out, My husband has a knack for rope work and had made my headstalls along with the rope reins. I prefer them because of the lack of hardware ( I hate all the hardware on biothane and beta tack)and I like a little weight to my reins which the rope offers. I'll put up with rope getting a bit stiff over time, and having to deal with a separate bridle /halter for now. The rope hedstalls are easy as pie to clean , I just throw it in the dishwasher and wallah... all clean and ready to go. A couple other things, a crupper and a breastcollar... In hill country, it's a must.

  16. I haven't been happy with the longevity of my most recent HAF pads. It makes them quite expensive, at the rate the last one lasted I'd be spending more on saddle pads then ride entries!!

    I may try something else. I hate throwing money away on unreliable products that don't hold up. Especially when I have used enough products where I felt I got my $$'s worth.

  17. I had given my pad the benefit of the doubt because I got it used, but I was dissapointed it only lasted me six months. I think I'm willing to get a new one to see how long it lasts, but if I get less than a season or two, I may have to reconsider.

  18. Not sure if anyone is familiar with them but I found what I am considering "the answer" to most pad problems, atleast I think I have. There is a pad called Saddle Right pads. I think they are out of Arizona but there are various dealers all over the US. They last, I mean really last...Also, the Fleeceworks has a new line out for endurance. THey are pricey and fairly new. Not sure how well they are holding up but the company is great to work with.

  19. Jonna - I to really like the rope halters. My preference is a snap on rope leadrope, but I'm picky about it, which is why I end up making my own. I to don't like *all* the hardware on the biothane. I try to think through each piece of biothane I'm going to get because in some cases (especially if you get brass fittings) it can be thought of like a safety - it WILL break if under enough pressure (I think this is only true with brass stuff.)


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