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Monday, March 8, 2010

A very important question and a decision

Very important question:  How is it that I'm a morning person who cannot, for the life of me, get out of bed in the morning?
Is that even possible?
I feel the best when I get up sometime between 5am and 6am.  My day goes flawlessly, I'm motivated, have energy, and just spend the whole day feeling happy.  I LOVE that pre-dawn/dawn time of day where the world is just waking up.  The only time I've run consistently in my LIFE was when I got up at 6am every single morning.  I was afraid the mountain lions would eat me if I waited so I was realy motivated.  I've never accomplished that feat again, which is why my running sucks - I can.not.get.out.of.bed in the morning. 
One issue is I function best on ~9 hours of sleep.  Unfortunately, going to sleep before 10pm is NOT happening, which means I manage a few 5-6am mornings before crashing for a couple of 12 hour nights (can anyone tell I don't have small children?).
With Daylight Savings just around the corner, I was freshly motivated last night to make a fresh start, and get ahead of the game (not to mention ride season is upon us and I WILL be in better shape for the next ride).  My sunrise alarm clock was set for 5:15am and I got up at 6am.  Not bad.  Now I just need to keep it up.
I had a wonderful morning.  I did some pushups (a max test - 20.  I'm starting the 100 pushup plan again...6 months ago I was up to 50!), cooked breakfast, put away laundry, put away dishes, washed dishes, and did my morning devotions (which have turned into "evening" devotions...) and then left for work ~7.  Absolutely delightful.  Now I don't have to feel guilty if I end up spending my ENTIRE evening at the stable! :)
Decision Time: 
I hate all saddle bags currently on the market for endurance riders.  Which means one thing - time to fabricate my own.
Let me explain.
I primarily use the Stowaway (easy care brand) cantle pack for rides and the pommel pack for conditioning rides.  The handy-dandy boot bag gets used intermeditadly as needed.
Cantle pack:  On my other saddles it stayed on the cantle better.  When I pack a bunch of stuff on it, it stays better on the back of the saddle, but lately I've been packing less and less and less... and it annoys me more and more and more as it will NOT stay on the back of my saddle no matter how I cinch down the billet straps.  On my latest ride, the 20 MT 100 mile ride, I'll bet it didn't stay on the back of my saddle for more than 5 minutes TOTAL FOR THE ENTIRE RIDE before slipping down behind the saddle - not good for Farley's poor loins (although it rests on the back of the haf pad, so not too bad). 
Then there's the ever pleasant sensation of trying to get something out of it behind you at a trot. Which is why I've been carrying less and less....only granola bars, electrolyte syringes, and water bottles survive my behind the back fumblings while riding.  (there are few more emergency essentials in the smaller pockets but those don't count as - cross my fingers - I won't need them often or while moving). 
Not to mention the fact that I've lost more than a couple of water bottles and syringes on the trail because the pack won't stay put and bounces stuff out that isn't perfectly secured.  The last straw?  I can't access anything but the water bottles and the side pockets while dismounted because I'm so short.
So why don't I use the pommel pack you ask?
Pommel pack:  This is actually a nice little pack.  I like the design, it stays off her withers and doesn't bounce.  I also find there are plenty of pockets for everything I might need to take with me. 
BUT.....having something in front of me where I usually carry my hands drives me INSANE if it's for more than a couple of hours.  It was fine for LD's, but as I moved up to fifties it annoys me to the point I'm having a mini frusteration/stress attack just sitting here at the computer thinking about it. 
For some reason I feel "perched" above the horse when I have them on the saddle and not being able to touch and pat her shoulders and neck really bothers me.  It's also hard to untack and tack with it attached since it hides my breast collar attachments. 
The final straw for this little pack is the velcro - unless I get the velcro perfectly aligned it "sticks" to my rope reins.  AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  The velcro is old so even when I DO get them perfectly aligned, the velcro curls up and sticks to my reins...... 
I still use these for conditioning rides because it is so handy and more versatile than the cantle pack and I can deal with the issues short term.
My favorite pack (to my suprise) has been the little dinky boot bag! 
Boot bag:  Purchased years before I even considered boots, it was obviously an impulse buy.  I usually hook it up so it sits right behind my thigh, but I've also used it up front.  On a whim I put my GPS is one of the front pockets of this bag and I was pleasantly suprised how easy it was to drop my hand, unzip the pouch, and grab my GPS without having to lean, look, stop, or risk dropping anything.  It was unobtrusive, didn't bounce, and very accessible.  Perfect!
Which got me thinking......
  • What if I used a boot bag on each side of the saddle - each situated behind my thigh - and a pair of water bottle holders up front?  It sounded perfect until....
I looked at the price.
  • The want SIXTEEN dollars for the boot bag AND EACH water bottle holder. 
The boot bag is "OK" but not perfect.  With one large pocket and 2 very small front pockets, it has limited uses.  But, I would have shelled out the $$.  It was the water bottle holder price that got to me.  No way!  Sung Pax is not any cheaper, I like the designs even less, and they don't have the simple set up I want.
So I've decided that there is a better way.
I will "make" my own.
  • 2 water bottle holders and one boot-bag-style pack. 
Stayed tuned - I'm half way through the process and it's going VERY well.  The trick?  Start with non-horsey bags and modify. 


  1. I share your frustration. I've gotten used to the stowaway pommel bag, but it does seem bulky. I had a delux snugpax with water bottle holders, but could not keep it off my horse's withers so my pommel packs now don't have water bottle holders. Water on my back is the only way I'll drink enough so the Nathan women's hydration pack works for me. It's WAY more comfortable than the Camelback. It's made for runners and moves with you. I really like carrying my small important items in vest pockets. A down vest in winter, fisherman's light cotton vest in the summer. I never need to take it off, and if I leave the horse, I know I have the stuff. I also kinda like my Cashel Ankle Safe, it will hold my .25 Baby Browning and a small flashlight. I have fun making up mini survival kits, and this would hold one.

  2. I have flipped my breastcollar strap around, so the end that normally buckles on the rings of the breatcollar, now buckle on the saddle, and just stay ON the saddle, and the snap end is now the part that snaps to the breastcollar ring. Easy to snap,unsnap without moving the pommal pack. And just trim off the end of the velcro flush to the edge of the pack, and the reins will not have as much to grab on to.

    You can often add extra foot-mans loops to the backs of most saddles to help tie packs, or even a place to add strings to tie on a jacket etc. I added soe to the back of my Specialised, and some to an english saddle.

  3. I quit using my cantle pack for pretty much the same reasons - if I put anything useful in there, it's too heavy and rubs on her back, plus I have to twist too far to get stuff out.

    I have a water bottle bag that I use all the time, just to hold stuff. My saddle's a hornless western type, so I just ran some extra leather straps around the pommel to make loops. The water bottle bag snaps on to a loop, and a couple of carabiners snap on as well. I keep the GPS strung on a carabiner - it's easier to glance at it that way.

    I keep thinking I could adapt a big fanny pack into a pommel pack. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

  4. I simply just carry a sponge and water scoop that is clipped to the saddle, and all the other "necessities" just go into my camelbak... 9 hours of sleep?! I would be in absolute HEAVEN if i ever got that much sleep, even on the weekends, i get about 4 during the week and 5-6 on the weekend. ugh have i mentioned i hate my classes this semester?!

  5. Okay, here's my solution, because I *hate* having bouncing packs and I *can't* carry a Camelback because the weight distribution doesn't work at all for me:

    pommel: I strap the stowaway pommel bags (smaller version, not the "deluxe" with the water bottle holders) on the pommel of the saddle, not in front of the saddle, and use the compression straps to hold everything down tight. I put long extra pieces of velcro over the top of the little "attachment" velcro strips, which hold the packs down tighter AND have the soft (i.e. non-grabby) side up, so they don't snag my clothing or tack. I can tie an extra shirt or something down over Fee's withers with the long straps if I need to.

    The cantle packs are the English style packs, which have a little pocket that slips over the seat, in addition to the regular straps. I find this holds the packs up off the horse's back. I only pack a rain jacket and two water bottles in these packs at a ride--I used to pack a boot, but it will bang on the horse's back if it's not tied down really tightly!

    Hmm. I think I need to take pictures, I'm not sure the explanation makes sense...?

    Maybe a better question is: what supplies are you carrying? Maybe there's a better way to stow them?

  6. Have you tried using bungee by the yard? It's pretty inexpensive and works great. I get it at Mill End Fabrics in Carson City. It works great to add extra security to the packs.

    Griffin's Tack makes a nice bag that fits boots very well and is super easy to access quickly compared to other packs.


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