Trailhead Supply Blog / Coffee with Andy

Week 7: The Time Is Now

A little under two weeks to go until spring is officially here...and, yep it’s snowing again…That’s the common topic around the Trailhead Supply coffee pot. Snow… Will it ever stop? When is it going to melt? I’m sick of winter!!! We all know the answer, yes it will and it won’t be long. But are you ready? I can’t begin to tell you how many people have come into the store and said I need a new pack saddle, I’m packing more this year than I ever have. This is the year!!! I’m covering more miles on that old horse than I ever have before. They finish their cup of coffee, turn for the door and in parting say “I’ll be back as soon as the snow melts.” Then we have the folks calling in on the phone asking for routes around the Bob Marshall as they begin planning their bucket list trip, asking the same questions… We love to help plan your trip, by the way!!!

So, this week’s prep for spring discussion is “the time is now”. Spring will be here soon enough, followed by summer, which is chased hard by hunting season. Buy the mule, order the saddle, and start the planning. No matter what the weather is doing, everyone will still be going to the sale barn, buying horses and mules, don’t hold off on the tack until the snow melts. All of us at Trailhead Supply along with all the other pack saddle and tack builders don’t want to be the bad guys when we can’t deliver your orders on time because you drug your feet making that order because you were depressed about all the snow, rain and mud (depending on where you live) It is just not all about tack…as you begin planning will you need certified feed? Bear resistant food storage? Are you camping with the stock? Highline or electric fence? What kind of paperwork do you need to haul your stock to another state or even another county in your home state? Have you got a trainer lined up yet for that new mule you plan on buying?  Have you booked that farrier appointment yet? Spring is coming quick, are you ready?

I’m right there with you! I spent Sunday shoveling gates open so I can feed round bales while I’m gone this weekend, which I had to go buy. Where am I going? Back Country Horsemen of Washington’s Rendezvous. I’ll be there teaching pack clinics and showing off our decker pack saddles…

See you on the trail, or better yet, stop by and get your gear on order before your trip! We want to help you make the most of it.


PS- If you aren't sure where to start check out our Resources Page on our website. We have a gear checklist and links to some of the best websites for trail conditions to get you started.

Read more →

First Aid Kit- Equine, The List...

On Tuesday and Thursday night there are pack classes being taught at Trailhead Supply. So, this week when the Thursday night class showed up, right after they asked is the coffee was ready? They all asked where’s the list? What list?  The list of what is in your first aid kit you carry. (I was glad to see they all read Wednesday’s blog, Coffee with Andy) But so much for staying on track at pack class…So first aid it was… I carry 3 first aid kits…The first one is in the truck and stays with the truck and trailer. The second one is the main go-to kit. Everyone who packs with me knows it is secured to Lucy’s pack saddle anchored between the steel hoops of her decker. Its not packed away in some mantied load or stuffed in a pannier somewhere. It’s right out in the open where anyone can get to it, because when you need this kit, you need it now!!! The 3rd kit is a smaller one that drops into my saddle bags so I can tend to those who pack with me. We all have some health issues as we are getting older, and we make sure we all know what those issues are. Here is where the extra inhaler is kept along with the EpiPen, glucose test kit, and that big bottle of ibuprofen….and a bandaid or two. In this kit there is also a list of emergency contacts. 

There are some must haves vet wrap, Banamine and wound salve.  Then build your kit from there. I always take plenty of rolled gauze, I always use it before I vet wrap, If the leg swells between the padding of the rolled gauze and the stretch of the vet wrap it helps not to cut off circulation. To hold leg dressings from sliding down a leg I use elastikon it’s a super sticky, and stretchy adhesive tape. Some of the other items I pack along are Phenylbutazone aka Bute. I always carry a tube of electrolytes, 4 x 4 gauze squares, silver sulfadiazine cream, a digital thermometer with a string and clip to attach it to the tail, stethoscope, sharpie marker for making notes on bandages, scissors, blood stop, and twitch. The final item is a reference card with that important data on it I can never remember like horse’s average temperature range and heart beats per minute. Everyone has something that has worked well for them and something they wish they had at the time they needed it. So far this has worked for me and my crew…Good luck out there and lets all hope you never have to use any of you first aid items. 


Click here for a printable version of our list.


Read more →

Week 6: Medic!!

The first thing that comes to mind when you talk about first aid in the back country, or for that matter just out for a day ride on your favorite trail, is...Helicopters!!! Whoa!!! Hold on, the chance of needing a chopper ride to the hospital, is well, statistically just not going to happen.  I’m not saying don’t be prepared for the worse case scenario, but lets look at the everyday things that happen on the trail that you can fix and make better.  Since the weather isn’t getting any better, and you are still stuck indoors, now would be a great time to go through our first aid kits. Organize, and update them, or for that matter put one together, in the chance we need to use one this riding season. We all should be carrying a first aid kit of some sort with us. Plus, we need to be able to use all that’s in that kit, otherwise why pack it along?  I use to belong to a Back Country Horsemen chapter that had a club first aid kit. This kit was put together by a retired veterinarian. It had everything in it! I mean everything…In fact it had so much stuff in it, it never got taken out on the trail because of its size and weight. What good was it, just being left behind in storage? I brought it home one day and went through it. All the meds had expired, froze, or leaked out ruining everything else that it came in contact with.  As I went through this massive kit trying to salvage as much as I could, I made two piles. The first was everything that I knew what it was and how to use and the second, everything I had no clue what it was, or if I did, I had no clue how to use it.  This is what I used as the starter list for my own first aid kit. You’ll quickly notice that a lot of the items are duplicates to what you already carry in your human first aid kit, why pack twice as much? Condense. Horse first aid just isn’t about cuts and tears it could be about internal issues, for example colic, or it could be about a rock hung in a shoe. Do you have the tools to fix that? A gall from your cinch, rope burns etc. etc etc. the list is never ending possibilities.  Now’s the time to get ready we only have a couple more weeks till spring.

Another issue that is never really talked about when dealing with first aid is your riding partners… Do they have any health issues you should know about? ASK!!! And, ask what you may need to know to treat them. Diabetes, heart issues, and allergic to bees are just the tip of the iceberg. If they have a health issue, they’ll know how to treat it if an issue arises, ask them before they can’t tell you, or you could be back to that chopper issue … Get ready we are getting closer, In fact it has stopped snowing here and the sun is out, still below zero but the sun is out and did I say it stopped snowing…Come on SPRING!!!!

See you on the trail


PS- Comment with your first aid kit essential items that may be regional to the terrain you ride in. We will publish a list and photos of ours later this week. We would love to include some of the items you take with you in our master list that maybe don’t pertain to where we ride.

Read more →

Week 5: Keep Cooking

Keep Cooking …

I was hoping to post a bunch of great camp kitchen set-ups.  But it just keeps snowing, and snowing, and snowing.  How do I break the winter blues and fight off cabin fever? I cook!!! Its time to try out all those recipes you were thinking would be great out on the trail.  You know the ones I’m talking about the ones that just WOW! All your campfire guests. Once you find some great tasting dish that you and all you packing/trail riding buddies will love, then the work really starts. 

You need to start breaking it down for easy back country cooking. I know very few folks that would rather be cooking, slaving away over the propane stove than be out fishing. But food is also a major part of my back country trips…. Let me start by saying there are some really good freeze-dried meals out there but unless there is a major weight and or space issue, I’ll just tie on another mule and eat like a King!  There are a few things I’ve learned over the years. All my cooking and serving utensils are metal. For the over the fire cooking, along with propane stove cooking.  I leave the plastic stuff at home.  I pack in salt and pepper mills. First those cardboard containers break and pour salt all over my kitchen boxes secondly when those spices get damp, they get hard with a salt mill, I just keep grinding them up. I pack real whole potatoes they are heavy but move them around and balance your loads plus they’ll keep for weeks. Eggs get packed in whole, I pre-prep as much of the dinner sides as I can, seal a meal it, at that point no cans to deal with. You can just drop that bag in boiling water to cook a lots less pots and pans to wash.  I’m often asked what do I cook for dinner on days 6, 7 and 8 and how do I stop meat from spoiling? The new bear resistant ice chest like the Engels do a great job, as an option. On long extended trips when everyone else has turned to freeze dried I’m breaking out canned hams the left overs become breakfast meat and sandwiches at lunch. Canned chicken becomes a big Chinese night toward the end of the trip. There are a lot of ways to eat really good, miles from nowhere just think outside of the box and start planning early… You still have time! It’s still snowing… Have fun cooking and I’ll see you on the trail.


PS- Looking for inspiration? We have a great selection of cookbooks on our website! We just listed 7 new title of Dutch oven cookbooks written by the one and only Colleen Sloan. Check them out here.

Read more →

Week 4: The Must Haves

Keeping with our theme we are now 4 weeks till spring, what do we really need to hit the trail? I got sent a message the other day explaining to me that they are new to packing and are planning a couple of trips this summer. First a short trip, you know, a test run.  Then, off on a big trip to see parts of the world unknown. Then the question was asked...What is the must haves we need to take along? We all have seen this type of post on Facebook. Thanks for the add, new to this etc etc etc and then what’s the one thing you would bring with you on the trail?  The one thing you always take with you. Don’t take me wrong we all start somewhere and questions are the way we learn. I read every one of these posts, because I love the answers!!!  It helps me get ready for the next pack class I teach. Plus there is always something new that I learn or try. 

First, we need to break it down. There are TWO groups of trail riders/packers.  Trail head and get on down the trail folks. Neither one is wrong just two different life styles. I always knew this just never gave it much thought until the question was asked “What is the one thing you always take along with you?” and the first response was, an electric frypan...I stared at the monitor for a minute and thought “what” an electric frypan? In all the thousands of miles I’ve pulled a pack string, all the cold wet miserable rainy nights I’ve hid under a tree wrapped in a manty trying to stay warm and well, drier, and even the night my daughter and I got stuck up in the rocks trying to pack her mountain goat out and ended up sleeping under the hide till daylight, and the snow to stop. I never thought of an electric frypan. 

Now back to the packer group…The list of course is personal, we are all different but when we share our thoughts and our ideas it helps us all think of something that would help us even if it’s not on our list.   Like a Leatherman, those little folding plier things… Other than pinching your finger and giving you a blood blister what good are they? Carry fencing pliers, it’s a hammer, pliers, hoof pick, cuts wire, pull a shoe, put a shoe back on and the list goes on…I don’t carry a cell phone they don’t work in the Bob Marshall it stays in the truck.  I carry a saddle saw “Must Have” I tell everyone the #1 must have on my list is, a metal coffee cup!!!  You can dig with it, cook in it, eat out of it, and every camp you come across will have coffee over the fire but they might not have an extra coffee cup. I tell everyone in my pack classes that everything you pack-in needs to have at least two uses! The list goes on and on. Feel free to share your must haves. It will help not only the new guy but might also be something useful to us old guys as well. Remember spring is coming, get your gear together, and figure out what you’re missing, what you can add, or what you can improve. So, what are your must haves for the upcoming riding season?

Till next week…

See you on the trail…


Read more →