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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Custom saddle bags

***This post will be updated with pictures at a later date....(can't post pics by e-mailing posts, which is how I'm updating my blog).  In the meantime, if you want the pics that go with the post, leave your e-mail in the comments and I'll send them your way.
First some updates based on comments from the previous post:
  • The essential items of my pack are:  elyte syringes, human food, spare boot, GPS, ride card, 2 water bottles.  If these items are not easy to get to while riding, I tend to not use them to the detriment of my ride.  These are usually stuffed in the main top compartment of my cantle pack.  The boot and the GPS go in the boot bag behind my thigh. 
  • The "non-essentials" - tiny first aid kit, bailing twine, extra scissor snaps, zipties, extra pair of gloves (sometimes), inhaler, knife.  These are items I usually don't need, but if I do I'm usually dismounted and they don't have to be accessible while I ride.  These are usually stuffed in the little pockets of the cantle pack.
The cantle pack has been fine for the last 3 be perfectly honest, even though it bugged me during 20 MT, neither one of us (Farley or me) was actually hurt by the saddle pack.  It just annoyed me.  And I hate being annoyed.  I'm finding that 100 miles amplifies annoyance into wanting to tear the offending item off with my teeth and drop kick it over a cliff. 
Another example of this is my stirrups - The easy ride stirrups have always annoyed me.  But I felt like everyone else used them, they were suppose to work, they were my only caged stirrups and I was riding in tennis shoes etc. All my conditioning was done in Aussie stirrups with a leather pad.  Guess what?  At 65 miles I traded my Easy ride stirrups in for my Aussies and a pair of boots.  Yep, the balls of my feet were sore at the end of the ride, but it was a small price to pay for a stirrup that stayed PUT and didn't allow my foot to keep sliding forward and bounce around.  I've picked up a pair of used, reasonably priced toe stoppers for the Aussie stirrups so I can ride with my running shoes and I'm anticipating it working very well. 
Back to the Subject - Fabricating no-bounce Saddle packs
There are a lot of very nice day-fanny pack options at a variety of discount stores.  Alternatively you can haunt thrift stores, or even rummage through your own closet. 
I found something very suitable new - a coleman day hiking pack that buckles around your waist with 2 water bottle holders - one on each side.  The pack itself (not counting the water bottle holders) is about the same size as the boot bag, but a little "wider" and not as "deep".  The basic design is almost identical to the boot bag with a few "deluxe" features.
  • Has a large rear compartment with a padded back that a renegade will fit into if I want to carry a second boot.  This compartment does have a mesh pocket within it that would carry a hoof pick or other supplies I might need when replacing a boot on the trail.
  • A middle compartment is divided up into smaller sections, perfect for ride cards, emergency supplies, etc.  It also has a larger section for small fruit cups, granola bars and other rider food.  No more struggling around my electrolyte syringes to get to my food. (or deciding it's too much trouble and deciding to NOT eat....we all saw how well that worked out!). 
  • A flat front pocket is perfect for elyte syringes.  It has an elastic bungee on the front of this pack that would securely cinch them down (I like to have the syringe "tops" peeking out of the zipper for easy access. 
The plan was to either cutting the side water bottle holders off, or leaving them to carry electrolyte syringes (the top of the pounch cinches shut completely and maybe a small bottle filled with some sort of liquid food, like applesause. 
After bringing my saddle home and sizing the bag against the saddle I decided to cut them off. 
When I cut off the water bottle holders, I did neatly so I could re-fabricate them into something that could attach to the front of my saddle and hold water bottles as a stand alone.
Converting the remaining pack part of the fanny pack was surprisingly easy.  The pack I chose already had 2 top rings in the right place to hook to D rings on the saddle.  After experimenting with various clips, I decided the best solution was little rolls of velcro (the type used on Skito pads that I used on my rump rug, NOT the "regular" velcro) that went through the rings on the pack and then through the D's on the saddle would work best. 
Next was the billet attachment.  I shortened the waist strap all the way on one side, and adjusted the other side so that it was long enough to go under flap, around the front billet, and then back to the opposite side of the pack to connect with the buckle.  The pack I chose has a detached back between the padding and the actual pack that the fanny straps tuck into when not in use.  I slid the straps through this "pocket" so there is not buckles or straps against the horse - just the padded back of the back.  The bag doesn't actually touch the horse as the Haf pad I use covers the area that the pack site.  This whole paragraph is obviously better explained in pictures! 
Tada!  I have a nice, compact pack that sits discretely behind my thigh, right behind the flap of my saddle.  It's accessible, won't bounce, is organized, and doesn't touch the horse.  Perfect!
On to the water bottles.....
Even if I hadn't cut the water bottle holders off the pack, I decided that fabricating water bottle holders should be easy.
Fabric folded over a few layers of quilt batting, sewed around a circle base, attach a clip (for D ring on saddle) and a string for attaching to girth.  However, I decided why fabricate something from scratch when I have a perfectly good (although cut in half) water bottle holder laying in my sewing basket? 
On a side note, while out on Sunday I saw an insulated water bottle holder for a hunting pack for very very cheap in a hunting store, so picked up one just to try.  (It was HALF the cost of the horsey on and all I had to do was sew a long string on the bottom of it to tie down to the girth!) 
Back the self-made water bottle holder.
I felt that the holder was a mite small for the ginormous (pink) water bottle that I bought so I decided it needed to be a bigger diameter.  Along the side that was cut, I sewed a fabric insert that widened it ~ 1".  The pack came with a shoulder strap that was nylon with a clip on each end.....I cut enough of the nylon strap that is fit the entire length of the water bottle, with a clip at the very top.  Then I sewed the piece of strap on the side of the water bottle holder (with the D-clip oriented on the top).  For the finishing touch, I took an old shoe lace and sewed it to the bottom of the water bottler holder to tie it down to either the saddle, girth etc. to prevent it from bouncing. 
Net price for entire project:  $25
Cost if I had bought a boot bag and 2 water bottle holders:  $16+16+16 = $48
$$$ Saved:  $23
Satisfaction is knowing I like this pack better than anything I could have bought:  Priceless. 
This was even easier than I thought it would be!  I think that this could work with almost any fanny pack.  I only spent one evening on the project (while watching Torchwood, which is what happens when you run out of Dr. Who....) and have some fabulous, custom saddle packs!
Remember to leave your e-mail in the comments section if you want to see pics.  I'll try to update this post with pics in a couple of days.


  1. Send me pics please! I think I understand what you're talking about, but I'd love to see pics too.

    I know what you mean about annoyances. My D-ring snaffle squeaks. The longer I ride, the more it bugs me - and Dixie likes to work the bit in time with her gait. I am going to try wd-40'ing it and if that doesn't work I may get a nicer one - it was a tack store cheapie.

    I heart Jack Harkness!

  2. Yeah, I'd like the pics too! BooksAreNerdy @

    Funder- before you try WD-40 try veg oil. I used to use veg or corn oil to lube up my hamster's squeaky wheel when I was a kid! Seems safer for animals!

  3. Mel

    Now you know I want to SEE it. I picked up two red water bottle holders at walmart for $3 each. I will have to rig a tie on the bottom of each so they won't flop, but a bargain price that gives me two extra water carriers. My body calls for profound amounts of water in the summer.

  4. Definitely wanna see photos! aarenex AT haikufarm Dot net

    Funder: for squeaky tack, try cooking spray.

  5. One thing about using vegetable oils for lubrication is that they get sticky after awhile. All vegetable oils are drying oils (Think of the best known and quickest drying example - linseed oil)
    Mineral oil is non drying and is relatively safe, the main ingredient in baby oil.

  6. I cannot stand a bit that makes noise.....Even curb chain jingles make me crazy.

    I'm starting to heart Jack Hartness more now that I'm near the end of season 1. I thought he was an insufferable a$$ at the beginning.

  7. BTW - all pics for this post will be posted in a March 12 dated post called "housekeeping".

    Easier this way than editing this post (adding pics messes up my formating)

  8. Nevermind about the pics. I guess I'll have to put off posting them AGAIN since the Internet doesn't want to cooroperate.


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