Review: Taylored Tack Simple Hackamore Headstall

Bear with me…as with just about everything I do, there’s usually a “why” for it…and an accompanying story.

Funny enough, I have a minimalist of a pony, especially when it comes to tack. It’s taken me a while to realize this, but the less stuff on her face, the happier she is. Too much material, especially around/behind her ears, makes her sweat, which in turns makes her itch. End result of that is she then tries to over-enthusiastically remove the paint from whatever surface she is tied next to (vehicle, horse trailer, railing) by virtue of her itching and scrubbing her face against said surface.

My trailer ended up with more than one scratch in the paint from her rubbing before I was able to remove her headstall. (Powder coating being rubbed by metal buckles does not end well.)

The other thing I struggle with is that she doesn’t have a whole lot of surface area on her face. “Pea head” is the term used on more than one occasion. And as lovely as all of my halter-bridle combos are, they don’t work as well in conjunction with an s-hack when there is limited space available. The struggle I ran into was that in order to get the s-hack high enough on her nose, the chin strap would end up cross right on top of the underside of the halter noseband, which meant it wasn’t engaging with her chin the way it should. (Translation: Less brakes and slower pony response time than I like.) Also, her ground manners are less than stellar in flat halters. (Read: “Let me run right through you during a trot-out.”)

(Interestingly enough, if you look at a bunch of my ride photos, I used the Zilco equivalent of this set-up and never had a problem with space…it was only when I stopped using Zilco and switched to beta that I noticed this, so obviously the proportions of the Zilco halters are different.)

I’ve also used the add-on headstall over a rope halter idea. Her ground manners are much better when I have to lead with that, but I’ll be honest: I don’t love the look of the s-hack with a rope halter. Call me shallow, but…”If you can’t ride fast, ride pretty.” (Or just blame my show background.)

To me, this is just “too much stuff” crammed
on her pretty little face.

I’ve used the standard western headstall set-up (browband, throatlatch) with the s-hack before and it has worked well, but it was still more than what I really needed — browband and two crownpieces behind the ears.

I really liked the look of the clean-line, simple headstalls, so that’s what I ended up getting:

The Taylored Tack Simple Hackamore Headstall

Mimi’s is, of course, purple.

I haven’t had the chance to test it super-thoroughly (as compared to 25/50-mile rides/long training rides with the other set-ups) but the advantage of riding a horse for as long as I have her is I know when something works for her. And so far, I think this is working.

It’s definitely been warm enough to generate the itchy, sweat pony effect, and the fact she’s not throwing her head into my arms to “get this off me, now” is a good sign. It’s also plenty secure, I was able to make all the adjustments needed, and as with all things Taylored Tack, the workmanship is gorgeous. I love how clean-line of a look it is, and it really sets off her pretty little head.

As far as leading/halter underneath…Mimi leads just fine from the s-hack. She yields to pressure from the noseband and chinstrap, and if need be, I do carry a small rope halter in my pack for ER purposes.

This will definitely be a set-up I revisit in the future for any additional pea-headed horses.

Now I’m itching to add a custom TT breastcollar to Mimi’s tack collection, since I’ve never actually found a breastcollar to date that I’ve been completely satisfied with how it has fit her…

warm weather warriors

It’s summer here. It’s been summer since April. But now it’s really summer, which typically means oh-dark-thirty wake-ups to get in a semi-decent ride before your brains gets baked out of your head.

even Tevis crew needs heat conditioning

But that’s just kind of a factor of Arizona life. I won’t say I love it…but I’m used to it. And I object to the idea of shoveling myself out of 5′ snow drifts even more than I object to convection-oven summers.

And I get Tevis heat conditioning just by existing, and doing things like doing my short-distance errands without air conditioning. (Seriously. I drive a Suburban. Sometimes the drive time is shorter than interior vehicle cool-down time, which makes running the a/c pointless.)

“Mom, I’m sleeeepy.”

Yesterday, I had to make an impromptu barn visit to drop off my monthly board check. It was a busy work day, so I waited until the evening hours after dinner to make the trek down there. Yes, it was hot…but darn it, if I’m going to drive half an hour each way, I’m sure going to get more out of my trip than just sticking an envelope on a cork board. So along came the saddle.

I also needed a live-model photo demonstration for a boot-fitting concept as well, and it just so happens the pony is an excellent hoof model.
By the time I got down to the barn (fighting rush-hour evening traffic, yay) and took the photos I was after, the sun was hanging lower in the sky, a nice breeze was blowing…in fact, it really wasn’t too bad out. 103* without direct sunlight is much more pleasant than 103* with full, blazing sun.

ride off into the sunset…

However, I don’t know how some endurance riders ride in shorts. It was hot and I was lazy, which meant I stayed in my running-shorts-t-shirt attire all day, including down to the barn. I figured I wouldn’t ride for long, and I have a full sheepskin on my saddle…it would be fine. It was fine…but not comfortable. For one, I felt weird without my tights. Two, that sheepskin isn’t as soft and fluffy on bare legs as it is with a fabric layer between skin and sheep.

I spared y’all any photos of my dayglow-white legs, but suffice to say, I’ll be sticking with my ridiculous tights.

“Oh, look, activity next door.”

My little warm-weather night-owl pony was downright sassy. She really does prefer warm weather, and she hates early mornings even more than I do. She’d been snoozing all day long, so by the time evening rolled around, she was ready to party.

I’d barely swung my leg over the saddle before she was striding off. Ummm, excuse me??? Standing still to mount is one of my cardinal rules of horse behavior, and last I checked, that hasn’t changed for the past, oh, 16 years. Ahem. 20 years old and still testing the limits…

shadow chasing

While we just did arena work, she was in very cheerful form, lapping the arena with her perfect 7-8mph endurance horse trot. A couple of times, I tried to slow her down into a Western pleasure jog, and she was having none of it. Nice to know I took my perfectly trained show horse and turned her into a perfectly trained endurance horse.

for warm weather survival, add e’lytes

And I finally tested the Purina Electro-Ease paste. Response? Meh. I think I prefer being able to mix my own custom doses with powder and whatever base I choose. The paste sticks to itself really well, but it doesn’t squeeze out of the tube very quickly or easily (fast syringe work is the key to the pony), and because it sticks to itself in a big glob so well, she was able to just spit it out onto the ground. 

Plus, the taste is very, very concentrated. Yes, minty flavored, but once the flavor and coating wore off, the saltiness was very strong. I was able to syringe enough into Mimi on round two, after knowing what to expect from the consistency, that she got enough to thoroughly taste test. Her reaction? Initially, okay, since she loves mint. But the saltiness lingered so much that I had to rinse out her mouth before she was willing to take a bite of apple afterwards.
So, overall, probably won’t be adding this to my e’lyte regimen. Jury is still out on the powder form…that one isn’t as strong and mixes well in liquid bases.
Pony says, “No thank you for making me your guinea pig. Pick on someone else next time.”

my collection of riding tights

Dear Ashley, We are out of space in your drawer. You do not
need to add to your collection. Sincerely, Your Tights

Completely shameless confession: I love riding tights. Even before I got into distance riding, I had several pairs of tights with funky-patterned side stripes I would use for schooling and riding lessons. As evidenced by the above, once I got into distance riding, my fashion sense took on very much of a “no holds barred color explosion” type of flavor. I also wear them for more than just riding: I’ll wear them under sweats in the winter when I need an extra layer, or as a more comfortable alternative to jeans on days I’m just hanging around the house.

I’ve gotten my tights from a variety of sources and I really like them all for different reasons. At the very least, having multiple brands allows me to rotate through them — very handy at the Prescott ride when day one’s tights rubbed on the inside of my knee, so I switched to a different type on day two.
I also tend to hold on to my tights for a very long time, reluctantly disposing of them only after they’ve reached the point where I might as well just go ride in my underwear, they’ve gotten so see-through.
tights from Evelyn the Tights Lady

The two pairs of denim-looking tights are my newest acquisition from Evelyn, bought at the AERC Convention in February. One pair are solid lycra with a denim print, and the other are a heavier, more cotton-woven type of material with the look and a tiny bit of a feel of denim. The lycra ones are nice and cool for the summer. The denim ones are a perfect fall/spring weight and very comfortable. The solid purple cotton and “fireworks factory explosion” ones are several years old now, and the patterned ones have been through a number of rides and holding up well. The solid purple ones are a cotton blend of some kind, which is nice and lightweight for summer.

I finally got to meet Evelyn in person at the Convention and paw through the racks of wonderful, wild, outrageous patterns. I thought bringing home the denim ones was a rather conservative move on my part…but Evelyn’s promised to look for some wild orange fabrics for me as well. :)
Love these…Evelyn is definitely one of my go-to sources on tights.
Tropical Riders
EnduraCool on left; PrixTec on right

I’m kind of on the fence about the Tropical Riders. The brown pair on the left are wonderful. They’re the “EnduraCool” model, I believe. I picked them up a number of years ago…probably 6 or 7?…on sale at one of my local tack stores. As you can see from the rather interesting color variegation on them, I’ve worn them a lot. The lower leg is still the original color, from always being covered by half chaps, and the upper waist area is the same way from always being covered with a shirt. But the middle part…welcome to the “Arizona sun effect.” They’ve also got a couple of small holes…but they’re so comfortable and great for the summer that I refuse to give them up until they’re in shreds.

The orange ones on the right, I’m not too sure about. They’re the “PrixTec” variety. I know one thing for sure: I don’t like the full-seat. It’s not even the grip in the saddle part — nice, but unnecessary, as it turns out — but I don’t like how much extra weight and lack of breathability the extra material adds, and it makes them fit a little funky. I’m not wild about the fact the cotton material seems to be pilling around the lower leg and ankle area after only a few wears/washes.
Will get another pair of the “EnduraCool” variety if I can ever find another pair on sale again.
Irideon Issentials

The most boring tights I own…but I can’t get rid of them. They wear like iron. The black pair on the right are at least 7 or 8 years old and don’t even have a hole in them. (And they’ve seen a lot of miles.) The grey pair aren’t much newer, at least 5 or 6 years old. They have a couple of tiny holes on the side of one knee. They’re made of some kind of microfiber polyester, so have fantastic grip. They’re acceptable all year round, but can get a little hot in the summer. They do have a funky outer seam that I have to watch for — if it gets placed under my half chaps the wrong way, it’ll press right into my shins and do some interesting pressure things. Black goes with everything, so I can wear my more colorful and interesting shirts with these.

Kerrits Klassic Performance

I’m pretty sure these are the “Klassic Performance” variety. These are another pair that have seen a lot of miles and have the wear to prove it, but I don’t have the heart to chuck them quite yet. The bottoms of them are permanently stained from when I was breaking in my new black half chaps and sumemr sweat + new suede = dye leak. There are a couple of holes in them. The thigh area is starting to stretch out and get a little threadbare. But they’re some of the coolest summer tights I have and are still super-comfortable. The only problem with these is the tan color. From a distance, ride photos have a bit of a “Lady Godiva” effect. Hmmm.

Crazy Legs tights

The two wild prints on the left are solid lycra.. The side-stripe ones are lycra stripes with some kind of tech-performance solid fabric. This is my other go-to source for something other than off-the-rack, tack-store tights. The ones on the right are my newest pair, and the print is some funky shimmery snakeskin-effect type of fabric…very wild. (And enough orange in it to go with my whole orange color scheme.) Also been very happy with these so far as well

Not pictured: Winter riding tights, because they’ve been put away in my closet until next winter. One pair are Crazy Legs, the other Irideon Wind Pro. Like the Crazy Legs. The Wind Pro, I use more as winter sweats than for actual riding, because they’re bootcut, which, as it turns out, I don’t care all that much for in the saddle, especially when paired with half chaps. I love the Wind Pro material, though, and will probably look for another pair next winter in a more fitted style.

What I love about all of these tights and their manufacturers: They’re made in the US. Yes, even the Irideon and Kerrits. That makes me extremely happy that something I buy and get so much wear out of ties in so strongly with my efforts to get as much of what I buy as possible made in the US. And I really like supporting the small businesses like Evelyn and Crazy Legs: hard-working people and personal friends who are innovative and quality-driven.
I’It appears that I’m out of drawer space now…but that doesn’t stop me from keeping one eye open for any good deals I might stumble across along the way. Because there’s always room for more tights.

Review: Crazy Legs Tights

Last year, I started buying my tights from Crazy Legs Tights. Owner/designer Diane Stevens is an endurance rider, so she knows what makes for good tights for distance riding.

I got my first pairs last fall and wrote about my initial impressions here.

I got another pair just before the Fire Mountain ride, specifically designed as more of a winter-weight tight. Living in Arizona, I don’t have much call for “true” winter riding tights. Riding at a distance pace, there is enough body heat generated that thick, fleece-lined riding tights will turn into a toaster oven in short order. But there are enough times where thin lycra just won’t cut it, no matter if you’re wearing half chaps and multiple layers on top.

Enter Diane and her array of custom options. After brainstorming back and forth a few times, she offered up a new performance fabric she had found: a matte lycra top with a brushed lining…not thick enough to be called fleece, but definitely more substantial than standard tights material.

showing off the latest pair of Crazy Legs
I’d been happy with how my previous pairs had been holding up to the casual use I’d been giving them…but there’s nothing like an actual ride to put them to the test. 30 miles in Ridgecrest, all three gaits, and they were awesome. The weight of the performance fabric was perfect, and even as it warmed up in the middle of the day, I didn’t feel the need to change at the lunch hold and I never got overheated, even doing the death march slog up some of the afternoon climbs.
Of the four pairs I have, my favorites are the matte black lycra with the orange floral side stripe.
Also put to use at Fire Mtn: Friday’s pre-ride
Those are the tights. Let’s talk about getting them. As mentioned, owner/designer Diane Stevens offers up a ton of custom options. Knee patches, no knee patches. Padding wherever. Different widths of side stripes. Custom sizing.
And a plethora of fabric options. There are options listed on the website, but if you either check Crazy Legs’ Facebook page or contact Diane directly, she will probably have even more choices to offer.
March 2016 Update
A few more thoughts after a couple of years and multiple orders. 
Patterned Lycra can be really slick — know that if you get any pairs that are just a patterned fabric versus a solid performance fabric with side stripes. Not much of an issue if you have a shenanigans-free horse, but if you have one prone to sudden sideways teleporting, just be aware of the lack-of-grip factor.
Expect a longer-than-quoted turnaround time for actually getting your tights…it’s not unusual to wait a month+.
I still like my funky tights and wild colors, especially as a training/conditioning ride option, and they double as good running tights in the winter, but they’ve been nudged out of top contention for competition tights by some of the other high-performance fabric and design options out there.

a tights review; part one

L-R: Black with ‘Sunrise’ Racing Stripe; ‘Paisley’;
‘Orange Tie-Dye’

Part One of a product review: The Initial Impression. Part two will come when I actually ride in them.

Crazy Legs Tights is run by owner-operator-designer Diane Stevens, a fellow endurance rider.
I got them in the mail today; I’ve already got one pair on. So far, I’m really, really impressed with them. The attention to detail is superb with smooth, even stitching and no bothersome seams. I like the wide elastic waistband — I’ve been sitting in them and no problems with the waistband rolling. The ankles have gripper elastic on the inside, which is an awesome little detail to keep them from riding up. The leg length is more than sufficient — plenty of fabric to keep my ankles covered all the way down to my feet.
The fabric options are endless — I had a hard time pinning down my final selections. I’m so pleased with the choices I made; they’re absolutely gorgeous. And I will definitely be noticed going down the trail. :)
Part Two of the review will come after I actually climb in the saddle and ride in them, but just based on how I already feel about them, I’m sure they’ll be awesome!