Trailhead Supply Blog / preparation

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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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

Andy

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 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,

Andy

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

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