Trailhead Supply Blog / Coffee with Andy

Packing Clinics

And it’s still snowing…… Will riding season ever get here?  Some of my friends have given up ever being able to ride again due to all the snow and rain. They went south to the land of sand and cactus just to ride until the snow melts and the trails dry up. To bask in the warm sunshine, dry off, and flat just warm up. The things we do to escape Mother Nature and be able to ride… Me, I stay behind, manning the store, watching it snow, repairing pack saddles, and hearing the stories of trips gone bad, just how they tore their breeching into bite size pieces …. I tell everyone anymore a great trip to me is an uneventful one. A great trip is when the most exciting thing that happens, is when I catch more fish than I lose. 

This is also pack clinic season for me.  I use this time as I travel around doing seminars and clinics to further my dream of promoting uneventful trips through education.  It seems like a lot of issues can be taken care of before even leaving the trailhead. Last Sunday I taught 2 clinics that morphed into one. It started as a 4-H pack class, a series we are doing to get youth involved with packing. Anyone who ever said kids can’t pack has never seen these kids.  I’ve got some 8 year old’s that can manty and swing loads better than half the guys I pack with. And laugh and have fun while doing it.  Then I had about a dozen MCC  (Montana Conservation Corps) crew leaders stopped by to lend a hand but that turned in a pack class in itself and the 4-H kids were teaching the new MCC crew leader how to pack.  Our Northwest Regional MCC crews do trail construction all summer, but are required to learn to pack to assist the packers running pack support on their projects.  Next weekend I’ll be at the Sportsman Expo on the big stage teaching how to pack to all those guys who think they know how to pack……I’ll see those guys again when they bring their pack saddle in for repair and share their eventful trip story.

Till next time; see you on the trail…

Andy

P.S. Our events page has all of the details about the trade shows we will be at, and the pack classes/seminars we will be teaching. Click here.

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Preseason Scouting…

Football season is over, all that talk about trades, who’s on injury reserves, and who is going to win the big game is now a thing of the past; for at least a few months, anyway………Now is the real preseason, our preseason.  Unlike football where you are just an armchair quarterback, in your horse world you are the owner, the head coach and the referee.  This is your team and how you use the player or players is all up to you!  Two things happen this time of year. First, the weather starts to improve. Longer days, warmer temperatures; which leads to melting snow and more time to mess with the horses and mules. Second, the planning of trips and rides with your stock.  But will all your stock make this year’s team? Spring is also the time of year for a lot of big horse and mule auctions. This year, more than in years past, friends and Trailhead Supply customers have been reaching out asking me if I know of any good deals on horses and mules being sold.  The age-old question has always been is it better to buy an older animal with experience, or get a younger cheaper animal and pay for some additional training.  Then there is the hidden cost. More animals means a bigger trailer, more tack, more time. But as I keep telling myself they are like potato chips, you just can’t have one!!! If you have never been, or if you have time, I would encourage you to go to a big livestock sale. It is a lot of fun great people and some wonderful vendors.  I know because Trailhead Supply makes an appearance at a few. 

Get out, get some fresh air, pour another big cup of coffee, and  enjoy what is left of winter because it will be mud season before you know it.  Take a trip to the sale barn if you can and remember the number one rule when bidding…..don’t bid against me!!  

See you on the trail.

Andy

P.S. We will be at Salmon Select this year. More details are here.

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I've Seen the Light

I’m not sure if this winter is lasting longer than past ones. It could be there is just way more snow than years past. Maybe it’s just more days of subzero temps, frozen stock tanks, and auto waterers. I’m not sure the reason cabin fever is really setting in as fast as it is. But I do know that trudging around in thigh deep snow in the dark both in the morning and the evening pulling a sled loaded with hay is just plain getting old. Don’t get me wrong, I love sitting by a warm glowing, crackling campfire enjoying a big cup of hot coffee, and looking up at the stars and trying to find the big dipper. As an FYI the Big Dipper is the only star deal I can identify!!!  But other than a fun evening around the fire, I need light and a lot of it. My wife follows me around the house turning lights off that I leave on while reminding me between the power bill and the hay for my mules I’ll never be able to retire.  This year I have burned up, lost, broke, bought batteries for, disassembled, reassembled, and broke it again, more headlamps than I have in a lifetime combined. I have held flashlights in my teeth while out feeding.  If the snow ever melts I’m sure there will be a pile of broken lighting device carcasses laying across the pasture where I have gotten just flat pissed and tossed them as far as my rebuilt shoulder would allow me to throw them. Then one day a few weeks ago Trailhead Supply’s phone rang it was some gal who wanted to send me a free flashlight.  I said send it. I’m always willing to try free stuff out.  She told me to look for the red envelope.  In a few days, the mail lady handed me a red envelope. In it was a little red flash light; I turned it on and was blinded!!!   I could only see dots… I took it home and fed that night using it. That light was GREAT! In a few days, I received a call from my new friend wanting to know how I liked the little light.  I asked, did they make a head light…She said for your car? I said no, for my hat.   Oh, you mean hands free.  Whatever send me a case.  It has been a month, still running on the same batteries that came in it, still just as bright, and I haven’t broken it yet.  The mules don’t like it at all, it blinds them, oh well they are getting fed. I can see what I’m doing, and it has sped up the process enough I can pour another cup of coffee before leaving for the store in the morning.  Have a great week remember its only 41 days till spring. Now go pour another cup and think of warmer days ahead.

What do you use for light when feeding? In need of a new one? I love this new headlight so much, we are now selling them at the store. Check them out here.

See you on the trail.

Andy

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Hobble-em

Hobble-em

One day of sunshine and everyone is packing for the big back country adventure, the bucket list trip of a lifetime!!  As the gear is getting packed Trailhead Supply’s phone rings…..I have a question? or two… What do you feed your animals and what does one do with the horses and or mules overnight?  One of the most common aids used is hobbles….  Now just because it’s a week away from Valentines Day don’t go getting all 50 shades of gray on me.  Hobbles are a great way to keep your stock around while they are turned out grazing.  I never leave the stock in hobbles loose overnight. It is not safe and I’m allergic to walking. Hobbles will not keep them from wandering off to parts unknown, so keep an eye on them. This is why I bell all of mine as well, so I at least have an idea of which way to start walking.  Hobbles come in many different styles and constructed out of a wide range of materials, some good some not so good.  The most common is of course leather, that’s no surprise.  When looking at leather hobbles look for smooth edges and a soft latigo lining.  You’ll find some leather hobbles lined in sheepskin, fleece or some other kind of man made fluffy stuff……doesn’t matter I’m not a huge fan of any of them.  Burrs, sticks and pokey things not to mention sand will work its way into that soft pile of kindness you bought to be nice to your horse and rub those legs raw.  Remember even on soft lined leather hobbles you still need to keep them oiled and conditioned or that leather will become stiff and saw into them.  There are synthetics, neoprene doesn’t hold stitching and they pull apart. Nylon webbing unless lined with something soft can really burn some hide.  Now as traditional of a guy that I am, I’m a huge fan of Biothane.  Biothane is basically a polyester webbing with a TPU or PVC coating that makes it more durable, waterproof, easy to clean and weldable material. It is tough, lasts a long time, but soft and to care for it you wash it with water.  A big plus is it comes in orange so if the stock does kick it off you have a good chance of finding it out in that big ol meadow they were grazing in.  As long as we are talking hobbles, get hobble that fit.  This is important if you are running small hoofed animals…mules, ponies etc. they will be able to step out of figure 8 style hobbles and the buckle less hobbles.  Buckle less hobbles is a one size fits all hobble, but the last time the farrier was out my string runs from a size 3 to a 000. So, one size just doesn’t fit all.  While you are out working with that new mule getting her use to those hobbles you might as well pour another cup of coffee…….

What's your favorite type of hobbles?

See you on the trail.

Andy

PS- Due to frequent requests and questions about where we get our biothane hobbles we are now building them to sell and will be listing them on the website in a few weeks. If you are interested in getting on our pre-order list give us a call at 406-752-4437 or shoot us an email at info@trailheadsupply.com

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How full is your Calendar?

Wow!!  It quit snowing for the afternoon and I saw a few patches of blue sky briefly. It almost seemed like spring for the 15 minutes while I dug out some pack saddles and gear that I needed for teaching some upcoming pack classes.  It felt good to be outside without a coat and multiple layers on. Then Sunday I taught my first pack class of the year (only 20 to go) to a bunch of 4-H kids and their parents. I started prepping for my next pack class that’s coming up the end of this week. Talked with a couple of Sportsman Expos about packing demos. Had a meeting with the Forest Service about some upcoming projects they are needing pack support on. Got invited on some rides with friends this spring. Toss in a couple of fishing trips I want to pack into with the wife and kids. And my calendar is getting pretty full.  And yes it is only January.  There is just so much I want to do how do I fit it all in?  There just isn’t enough hours in a day, a week or a year.  But I’m going to try.  I’ll push it to the limits and grab as much life as I can.  I’ve already shifted to my summer hours, up at 4am and run till I can’t stay awake any longer.  My kids asked me the other day, “You left me a message on Facebook at 3:30 in the morning….was that really you?? and why were you up then??”

I can’t be the only one packing my calendar past load limits….I asked everyone stopping by Trailhead Supply for coffee the last week what do you do different than I’m doing?  The common answer is sorry I’m already booked! Time is only the first half of the problem. The almost the bigger issue is how do you fund your full calendar, because it’s a pay to play world!!

Let me know your time management secrets. 

If we can be of any help planning your big summer adventures give us a call or drop us an email.

See you on the trail.

Andy

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