Trailhead Supply Blog / Coffee with Andy

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.

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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.

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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…


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Week 3: Reach Goals & Get Healthy

New Years has come and gone along with all those resolutions... Well they really never got started.  Here we are 7 weeks later and five pounds heavier with a bad case of cabin fever setting in. That's where our Week 3 of preparation comes in. We all have been staring at the calendar, counting the days for spring to get here so we can quit shoveling snow…Well its time to do something about it! Well we can’t stop it from snowing, but we can get our head in the game and shake that winter time slump. You need to set a goal, work toward that goal and achieve your goal. I’m doing the same thing, but I’ve set two goals. I know, I’m just an overachiever!!!  LOL, they truly go together so why not take them both on at once. 

Goal #1, There is a couple of pack trips I’ve wanted to go on with friends and family… I know you’re thinking to yourself, “he packs all summer” Right, but not just to go enjoy quality time with friends and family. To make these trips become a reality, I’m now getting all my tack cleaned up, repaired and oiled. We are now planning routes, picking campsite locations and putting dates on the calendar. I’m excited!!! This really isn’t a normal thing for me.  If your reading this and are thinking I’d like to learn to pack, this is the time of year to go sign up for a packing class or clinic. If you live where there are no classes offered, pick up a how to pack book, watch a YouTube video, gather up some maps and start planning that trip. Call the land manager like the Forest Service for example for trip info…They can’t give you specifics yet, those trails may still be under snow, but it’s a starting point and this keeps you on task to reach your summer goal.  Remember you can always call Trailhead Supply we have customers all over the country both private parties and Outfitters riding those same trails giving us feed back and updates.

Goal #2…. I joined the gym!!!  Stop laughing!!! Yes, Andy joined a gym. And starting right after I finish up teaching a couple of pack classes, I start some hard-core training.  As many of you know I had my shoulder rebuilt due to my active lifestyle, but I still can’t open a jar or bottle.  Its pretty bad after a long hot, dusty day on the trail and I have to find someone at the trail head to twist open the cap on a beer… So, the time has come to quit whining and fix the issue, so I hired a trainer…I’m bigger than her but I know she can kick my ass if I don’t do what she tells me to do. I know I need to get into shape and with most of our doctors and horses, they would love to see us all loose 10 – 15 pounds… and feel better at the same time. The back country is no place for a heart attack.  Spring is coming, even if it doesn’t look like it. Don’t give up, it is. So, get ready to hit the trail and do something good for yourself, both for your mind and your body….

See you on the trail or maybe at the gym,



Want to hit up the gym with Andy? Don't worry we will have a follow up blog I'm sure! Check out Access Fitness with coach Leah. Photo credit to Leah Jensen and Access Fitness:

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Week 1: Tack Preparation

With only seven weeks till spring we probably are all thinking we should really start getting things ready for riding season. There is no better place to start than with our tack. We all have tack, we all need tack, and it normally is the most neglected. Its left out in the trailer’s tack room dirty, muddy and sweat coated for winter. To just again be tossed on the back of your faithful steed to hit the trails in early spring. Your tack needs to be in good shape no matter how far you plan to ride. So, where do we start?

A good starting point for all of us, is just to find it. As we start this process, we need to start remembering if and who we loaned some to; maybe a friend for a late season pack trip into elk camp, or to help outfit a few extra head for a fun day riding in the snow while relatives were in town for Christmas, doesn’t matter just find it. Now that you have gathered it all back up, look it over. Most critical repair concerns are obvious. Missing or broken rivets, broken reins tied back together with bailing twine and those short, broken or chewed off strings.  But what about those less obvious issues?

Broken tree, detreated leather, nails and screws working loose. If you have any concerns and are unsure take them to your local leather shop and get a professional opinion, won’t hurt to ask. After checking everything over, start with a good cleaning of the all the leather and follow that up with a good coat or two of your favorite oil or conditioner. This is also a great time of year to do those upgrades you always are talking about while out riding down the trail, like adding those slanted stirrups to help with your sore knees or replacing all those short saddle string with some long ones, to help keep your coat from always falling off.  Maybe its time to upgrade your saddle and horn-bags.  While we are looking everything over don’t forget the two most over looked tack items you own, your pad and your cinch.  Cinches become hard and stiff the strings start to decay, check them out!! Pads, just because they have held up for decades and have no holes in them, they could very well be tired and wore out. Check out the padding. It is probably compressed and or hard. The bottom side is most likely packed with dirt and hair from never being cleaned. At this point your pad may not be doing a thing to protect your animal.  All these suggestions don’t just apply to your riding saddle it goes for your pack gear just as much if not more.  Don’t be afraid to lift up that halfbreed, there is leather under there that you have never seen and those straps would like to feel some oil every now and then.  Remember sling ropes do wear out!

With that remember nothing last forever, but with a little oil and some love your tack will last for many, many years to come and you can make a lot of great memories going down the trail. As always, if any of us at Trailhead Supply can be of any further help just send us an email or give us a call. If you haven’t already subscribed to our You Tube channel get’r done some great videos are coming soon and you don’t want to miss any of this helpful info…

See you on the Trail,


PS- Don't forget our live sale on Facebook tonight! It starts at 6pm MST. Click here for details.

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