Trailhead Supply Blog / Coffee with Andy

Dog & Pony Show

The never-ending question…Do you take your dog with you when you go riding or leave it at home?  Is there a right answer?  How could you ever leave Fido at home? He is part of the family, and look at those big brown eyes…Isn’t he cute and so well behaved? I also always hear… My dog is good with my horses.  Well it should be, they live together.  Mine goes out and feeds with me twice a day. I let him out and he goes and hangs out with the mules.  But other horses on the trail don’t know your dog, and your dog doesn’t know them.  I pack with a guy all summer; he doesn’t even own a dog, his stock doesn’t even know what a dog is, all he owns is Turbo the kitty.  I get asked all the time do you take your dog with you? The answer is always NO!!  Don’t take me wrong, I would love to take Odie with me, but too much can go wrong.  It’s a safety thing.  I ride with a lot of folks that always bring their trail dog with them, it runs ahead and alerts oncoming traffic that a pack string is headed their way. They think they have control…well verbally anyways.  But do they really?  Last summer a good friend headed into the Great Bear Wilderness and took his dog.  His dog has packed literally 1000’s of miles with us.  The dog swam the river, then ran off up the hill in deep thick underbrush. When he worked his way back to the trail it spooked one of the pack horses.  The pack horse bucked, then reared, then came down on the old trail dog. The pack string blew apart and ran every different direction. All in all it took 3 days to find all the stock, 4 days picking up scattered gear, and $600 in vet bills to patch up the dog.  Does this happen all the time? No, but it could.  Do I still want to take Odie “YES,” but I probably still won’t.  By now most of you are saying this won’t happen to me…That’s what my buddy always said to me when telling me he’s bringing his dog. Be safe out there.

Pour another cup, spring is coming I promise…. The snow won’t last forever.


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It's Your Move

Winter is like a giant chess game for my summer activities and adventures. It's quiet, nothing moves fast, and every move is calculated out. It was minus 18 when I fed this morning and it is only supposed to get colder over the next week. So, as I go out and feed every morning I look over the horses and mules. What do I need to add to the string, who's stepping up to riding stock this spring, do i need to look into another riding saddle? At times I feel like an NFL coach, watching the players guessing who will retire and then who will that replacement will be. This is the time of year you clean and oil tack while enjoying the warmth of a fire in the wood stove. Now's the time to repair and replace, take a good look at your gear. Probably the most over looked piece of tack is our pack saddle cinches. We oil, clean, and handle all the leather, but who cares about that old dried out, deer chewed, mud packed pissed on mohair cinch?... It will work another yea. It's hands down the cheapest part of a pack rig to replace and without it we go, take 30 seconds and at least look at it. Then we all have that one pack saddle we just hate, for whatever reason.....Normally it's the one that was given to us or we bought dirt cheap because it was well used, no really well used, or was never used and was in great shape because the guy you got it from hated it too, and never used it. Its the one we got for an extra saddle that became a full time saddle or a full time pain in your ass, every time you use it. Get rid of it....Packing is supposed to be fun!!! Every time Chuck or I are having a bad day on the trail the other says "hey remember this is supposed to be fun!!!" Winter is a time to study the maps and start working out the logistics for summer trips. Never been's the time to make a phone call to who has, or visit the land managers office. they have time to talk now while snow is three feet deep, not at peak season when they are out in the field. Winter is also the time to tryout new meals to take with you on the trail or show off you culinary skills at the trail head. Seems like everyone lives large on the trail, chow time should be no exception. So, as old man winter keeps trying to make moves to depress you and give you a case of cabin fever make a counter move preparing for great days ahead on the trail. Feel free to use Trailhead Supply as a resource as you prep for that next big adventure.

Keep Warm and pour another cup.

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Feel the Sun

Burrrrrrrrrrrr Its got a little nippy out. -46 with the wind chill to be exact!!! We all drug the chairs a little closer to the old wood stove the last couple of days. I know I held my coffee cup a little tighter the last few mornings. The good news... I made it through another Christmas. The relatives have all left, life has went back to normal. Normal for me, but probably not normal for anyone else! What I find a little funny is Christmas is really only 4 days into winter (officially) but yet we all act like its the end of winter and we can almost feel those warm rays of sunshine of spring. Its a pivoting point in all of our lives. Those short dark days of winter are about to be driven back by the brightness of the sun. A new beginning, hope for better and warmer days ahead. There is optimism, there is planning of big adventures, readying of gear and equipment to take on challenges that lay ahead. Plans of checking something off that bucket list. A chance to do what you want to do, not what you feel you have to do. Twice a day I fight off old man winter trudging through knee deep snow in subzero temps to feed the mules check their water to ensure that its not froze ....and why??? The dream of yet another summer coming. Camping miles from anyone, cooking over the fire, and sleeping under the stars while making memories with my closest friends and family. But isn't that really what Christmas is all about?? Ever since the first Christmas....its been the time of new beginnings, of great things to come.
Pour another cup, enjoy the time around the fire with family and friends ....Get ready, a new year is almost here. Make the most of it!

God Bless

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You're a Special Kind of Different.

I was restocking a shelf when I heard Trailhead Supply’s front door open. I looked up, and a well dress women walks in.  She stands in the middle of the store and asks, “What kind of store is this?” 

“Well we sell trail riding equipment and packing gear for horses and mules,” I said. 

She looked at me and said, “Well I don’t have any of those!! Do you sell Greenies for cats?” 

I said, “No, I’m sorry.” 

“Well you should.” She said, “They are great for their teeth…I get so tired of brushing my cats teeth so I switched to greenies.”  Before I could respond to brushing a cats teeth…she asked if I knew why it snowed in the Midwest….

I said, “Because its winter?” 

No she responded, “It’s because of the tunnels.”


“They are digging tunnels under Lake Yellowstone and because they are(I have no idea who "they" are) coating the tunnel walls with spray on titanium and it has to be hot for the titanium to liquefy in order to be sprayed… that heat is causing Lake Yellowstone to evaporate and the evaporating water is then turning to steam which condensates on the atmospheric ceiling then is blows east with those big blue arrows on the news weather map to where it is colder.” Ah so we are back to winter in the midwest and turns to snow. 

So, at this point I had to refill my coffee cup.  “Can I ask where do the tunnels go?” 

“The underground cities of course…I ‘ve seen them, Donny took me there.” 


“For God’s sake,” she said, “Trump…..Our new President. Do you have??” She asked for something I never heard of….

I said, “No, I sure don’t.” 

She said, “You should. It’s great, it was developed by NASA as a disinfectant for the space shuttle, but works great for fly spray on horses.

“I thought you said you didn’t have horses?” 

“I don’t …I read about it in a science journal.”

“Would you like a cup of coffee, because I sure need another one.”

“No it messes with my ability to levitate. You know how to levitate don’t you?” 

“Like float?” I said.  

“Well Yes!!! and if you concentrate hard enough you can fragmentate.” 


“You can departiculate and your fragments can pass through nail holes and you can pass into another room.”

“I’ll have to work on that…Are you sure you don’t need or want a cup of coffee?“

“I’m good,” she said …………. 

Here is to all of your adventures real or not. Remember to make time to enjoy a cup…

Hope to see you on your trail wherever it may lead.


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Old Man Winter

Well old man winter has finally showed his face….and in Northwest Montana he came roaring in.  As snow was starting to fall and the temps were dropping I along with everyone I know spent the day outside picking up everything that should have already been put away and battening down the hatches.  You know getting stock tank heaters in place, moving hay a little closer to the fence, and splitting a little extra wood to help keep us warm and toasty.  What about your horses and mules?  What can you do for them when the weather gets chilly or at my place down right cold? Cold to me is different than cold to you. Like this morning I was messaging my nephew who lives in CA. and he said hey its cold here too…..It’s only 55 out I said we are 80 degrees colder than you are, with the wind chill.  This isn’t about do you blanket or not blanket, there is a lot of good information out there on this subject, every person and situation is different. The whole blanket subject is almost worse than discussing politics.  I was at the Vet on Saturday with a horse and I asked them about salt…..Because at Trailhead Supply the sale of salt blocks almost dies off in the winter.  No one wants to spend good money on a salt block just to toss out in the snow and have it slowly dissolve away. Plus there is a good majority of folks that don’t think the stock needs salt in the winter because they are not out working and sweating.  Do you still salt your food in the winter?  Of course you do you need it to survive it is an important mineral.  The vet told me they don’t really see a lack of salt or mineral issue due to most people supplementing their animal forage with some type of grain or pelletized feed. Whether the animal needs it or not it makes us feel better giving them a little something extra.  But the real benefit is that feed has some of the minerals in it that the animal needs.  Check their water supply make sure it isn’t frozen good clean water is a must!!!  Even though its bitter cold out go check on them!!!  Provide a wind break even if it’s just moving them to a pasture with trees.  Take care of yourself when out caring for them, you don’t want to slip and fall in the ice. Keep gates shoveled open and don’t plow the trailer in, if you do you’ll need it.  Hang in there spring is only 3 months away.

Now that you have checked on everyone, and all is well, go pour a hot cup of coffee.



Photo Credit: Kathy Young

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