Trailhead Supply Blog / Products
Summer is just around the corner; the days are getting longer and hotter. We do whatever we can to stay cool out in that hot sun, but what about the stock? They are the real work horses here (no pun intended) Carrying my fat butt up and down those long grades along with all those hard-working mules, packing who knows what today, it’s just plain hard work. My horses and mules are in shape, they are used daily, not like most of the trail users who only get out when they can escape from the day to day responsibilities of life. How do we prepare them for the hot journey ahead? First get them in shape. We all do the same thing. Quick ride after work, you grab your favorite ride, and in the trailer, he or she goes off to the trail head leaving the rest at home waiting for a big adventure when they all need to go. I always take one or two extras. Pony them along for the exercise, it’s good for them. Plan your big trips for early morning riding before it gets to hot out. Slow the pace down a little. Even with all the pre-trip preparation the heat may still get to your beloved steed. That’s why I carry a tube of electrolytes in the first aid kit I carry in my saddlebags. There are two forms of electrolytes. First, the powder or pelleted type that you add to water; this is like what the football players are drinking on the sidelines between plays. Second, the paste form, in a tube, this is for the player who is collapsing and can’t make it to the side lines. I’ve had to use my electrolyte paste a couple of times, I cannot believe how well and how fast it works. Now it’s going to make them thirsty which is a good thing, so, don’t skip a creek crossing without giving them a chance to drink. So, remember start the day off letting the stock drink all the water they want and this would be a great time to have another cup of coffee…
See you on the trail.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
What is a manty? Well to start with depending who’s book you read or what seminar you went to maybe even the last pack clinic you attended the spelling is probably different. (manty, mantie, manty tarp, etc) The spelling of the word isn’t the only thing that changes, the size changes as well, along with the country or origin. Those of you who run sawbucks like 7’ x 7’ manties, the guys that run decker pack saddles run 7’ x 8’ manties and there are still a handful living in the dream world looking for the almost no existent 8’ x 8’. Why the difference? Sawbuck guys like that seven foot square canvas for a rain fly. They can throw that perfect canvas square right over their saddle and it covers both sides. Decker folks like, and need, that extra foot of canvas to wrap everything up and hold everything in place while they sling it onto the side of the pack saddle and head down that long and winding trail.
But what is a manty?? It’s just a big piece of canvas that a packer wraps and or protects his/her equipment, belongings and or cargo with. But it’s more than that. It becomes camp, your bed, your home away from home. These large coveted pieces of canvas are cared for like no other fabric a packer owns.
That’s why the other night took me by such surprise. I got to the trail head late, it was dark, and my packing partner was already hard at work building our loads for the morning trip in. So, as I stepped in to help finish up manting the bales of hay we were going to pack into a Forest Service admin cabin, the canvas didn’t feel right. I laid a manty out, placed a bale of hay on it and that canvas just had a funny feel in the dark. I kept manting bales of hay, but the manties I was using had a lumpy slick feel. I asked what’s with these manties? The answer I received was “What” !!! “They are just manties dude.” I said, “They feel funny, they have a strange texture to them, it’s like something is on them.” We finished our task and called it a day I rolled up in one and went to sleep.
The next morning I saw the problem, they were all covered in paint, multi colored something out of the 60’s. I said what the hell happened to your manties?? Oh that….my wife found them and thought they were drop clothes and used them when she painted the house…………
Photo Courtesy of National Geographic.
With hunting season just around the corner, everyone is making plans, and beginning to start packing up for that adventure to the high country. A trip to the store is in order to buy some of that latest and greatest gear for this years trip. But what color gear are you buying ??? This has been the discussion around the coffee pot at Trailhead Supply. The bow hunters always arrive first picking up certified feed and a new bow scabbards to protect that new big dollar investment. They all seem to want camo, or green, maybe brown. So, I ask why not orange?? Their answer… “I bow hunt.” Ok I get that, but you’re not chasing down that 6 point bull and shooting off the back of a galloping horse. Your trusty riding mule isn’t belly crawling behind you through the brush and resupplying you with arrows till you make that perfect shot like some over paid caddy on the PGA tour. No, you left him somewhere way down the hill side, tied to a big old tree, where he will stand until your return. Then they ask, Well what color should I buy?”
I say orange, I use orange…..give them a little help while tied to that tree, or going down the trail. I’ve taught hunter education for 20 years, have hunted since I was 4 years old, your stock needs color. I know there are some folks in the woods that if it’s got 4 legs it needs to be in the freezer. Brighten up those animals, orange pack pads, saddle bags, bow scabbards, we even have orange tree savers to help add some color while they are highlined. You never know you might not run into the highline this year and hang yourself while walking around camp. Bonus!
All of you non hunters, if you think that just because you don’t hunt means you shouldn’t sport some flashy orange, you’re wrong… BE SEEN while enjoying the great outdoors. No matter why you are out enjoying some great autumn riding and fall colors, be safe and be seen.
Happy & Safe Trails,
Need to add orange to your string? Stop by the store, or shop online.