Trailhead Supply Blog / Coffee with Andy

Sold!!

Going once, going twice, and I sold it to you...Tis the season, either at some livestock sale or a deal between two private parties, horses and mules are selling and the pace is really just picking up. As fast as someone staples a for sale flyer up on Trailhead Supply’s info board, someone else pulls it down and says “I bought that one.” What I’m excited about is how many people are buying more than one…They are building a pack string and getting ready to cover some trail miles.  All of us who have already drank the kool-aid, already knows what comes next, a bigger trailer, then a larger truck to pull the bigger trailer. I had a guy in the store yesterday buying a bucket load of new brushes and a new saddle pad.  As he was paying, he said is there a cure for this packing disease? I said “yes, buy more mules.” Just be cautious when buy new stock. Good deals are not always good deals.  Remember you can’t ride color, just because it’s the prettiest animal you have ever laid eyes on you may never be able to ride it. Don’t be afraid to ask to have it vet checked before handing over the cash. And don’t leave with your new mount without all the proper paperwork. This is a growing problem with most of the states requiring different forms of bill of sales, brand inspections, and health requirements to transfer ownership. If unsure of what you need or should be receiving at the time of sale contact your states department of livestock, a brand inspector, even your veterinarian can be of help in this area. A receipt hand written on a paper plate isn’t really working as well as it did in the past.  On May 10th we are hosting a brand inspection day here at Trailhead Supply. If you live locally around Kalispell and need to get your animal brand inspected May 10th is the day!!!  Give us a call and we will set a time that works best for you. Brand Inspections are for branded and non-branded animals and is requirement when crossing county lines in Montana.  For more information or to set an appointment time give us a call 406-752-4437. This day always fills up really fast, so call early.

See you on the trail!

Andy

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The Pack Saddle

Well its time, time to think about getting a new or another pack saddle.  Everyone is calling the store with questions or chatting on any one of a number of Facebook pages. What do you think about this saddle or that saddle?  Do I need this or that? So, at this point I thought I would throw my two cents in. 

There are two types of pack saddles; Sawbucks and Deckers. Today we are talking deckers…The Decker brothers were miners in Kooskia, ID. and needed a stronger pack saddle than a sawbuck to pack the steel rails into the silver mines for the oar cars. They had a local saddle maker, OP Robinett replace the wood crossbucks with steel hoops. That’s a 100 years of history in a few words!!! In time a new style of steel hoop hit the market. This hoop had been modified into a more square style allowing the ease of pannier straps to be thrown over the hoop to hang much in the same manner as with the sawbuck. Prior to the modified hoop, packers were welding a knob or tab off the top of the original round hoops for this purpose.  The problem with this addition was if you were manty packing and had your load tied on proper (good and tight, resting against the hoop) Those newly added extensions would and will rub a hole in your canvas and/or load. Deckers also have a halfbreed, an extra layer of padding, carried in a canvas cover, on the exterior of the halfbreed are sideboards this board distributes the weight of the load across the ribs of the animal.  A big advantage with a decker over a sawbuck is the adjustable rigging, unlike the sawbucks fixed rigging.  When I’m asked which is better traditional or modified hoops? I answer I run both in my string. But I can tell you what I sell…To my age and older I sell the traditional round style, because that’s what they have always used, my age and younger, the modified style. You can get deckers made with both conway and roller buckles. The buckle choice is up to you. It comes down to do you want to get all pissed off fitting the saddle or do you want to get it adjusted and hit the trail in a timely fashion. We are here to answer all you saddle questions, and get you the setup that works best for you. Feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email before you make that major purchase.

Till next week.

See you on the trail,

Andy

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Week 8: It's Spring!!!

And Its Spring!!!

Well we made it!!!   Its spring and the good Lord and the weatherman didn’t let us down … Sunshine and warmer snow melting temps, life is good. The one topic I wanted to bring up in preparation for spring, and probably the most forgotten is your trailer. This is where your trusty stead rides, and for your safety, their safety and the safety of others lets spend a little time this morning going over your trailer. I held off doing a blog on trailers, not because it’s a hot controversial subject…Mine is just buried in snow!

We probably all saw the picture floating around Facebook of that gooseneck that broke in half, full of horses. That could have been any of us, lets be honest who has inspected all the welds on their trailer? And if you did and found a bad weld what would you do? I’m guessing you are like the other 99.9 percent of all trailer owners. You think to yourself it will make it there and back … And that’s the last time you think about it.  Winter is hard on trailers buried under snow, everything in and on that unit is froze. Wire connections get damp and corroded. Bearing grease deteriorates and the material in the rubber compound of your tires breaks down, the wood in your floor just gets weaker. I know the days are getting longer but this year I want all of you to actually inspect your lights. Make sure they are all working. This may require you to spend a couple of bucks and buy a new light. Check the wiring, replace all that wire with cracked or bare and exposed wire showing. If you are having to pull some new wire, this is a great time to add some lights to ease in saddling or unsaddling in the dark. If that’s not in the budget or your skill set, don’t forget we carry 2 different options of Nebo lights that work great for your tack room! Maybe add a camera in the trailer to keep an eye on the stock. Tires: don’t be cheap in this area… buy the right size and ply rating, don’t skimp and use a set of old snow tires just because they are laying around, left over from the old pickup you no longer own. When we get to the running gear if you are not comfortable in packing bearings, doing brakes etc it may be a good time to seek out a professional.  The life of a trailer is a funny thing… It sits in hibernation all winter under a deep blanket of snow. Then one day it hits the road loaded heavy, and running hard all summer. But a break down away from home is a big dollar headache.

Take this short window of time before the trails melt out and dry up and get things in shape…One more thing that’s always fun to try is ride in your horse trailer while your trusted friend drives, check out where the wind blows in and all the rattles and swinging trailer ties your horses and mules have to deal with…There may be a reason they don’t like to ride in some trailers, just a thought…

See you on the trail!

Andy

PS- For the record, it's officially the first day of spring according to officials. However, we celebrate the 1st day of spring on the 21st in our house, which was the official first day of spring for years. Happy Birthday to Judy tomorrow on the Breland first day of spring!

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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.

Andy

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.

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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. 

Andy

Click here for a printable version of our list.

 

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