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MiniD and Tangle's tack and favourite things!

This is something I get asked so often, and as yet haven't found time to write any posts or reviews on the subject! So while we're waiting on the Spring Into Action judging to happen, here goes...

First off, we are not sponsored or endorsed by any company - everything I use and recommend is because I've genuinely bought it and like it!

Tangle is an 11.3hh Welsh A, and I have owned her for twelve of her thirteen years. In all that time she has had two saddles - both Saddle Company Pony GP's (the first was a black one that I got cheaply in a shop clearance - around the time MiniD was born I replaced it with almost the exact same saddle but in brown, which has better suited us for Pony Club and any showing we do). Tangle isn't your typical completely flat/round barrel of a native - she's approx a wide fit, and has a little wither. The Pony GP has proven an ideal fit on her, taking her (with the help of my lovely saddle fitter!) through many changes to accommodate her being backed, increasing in fitness, entering her teenage years etc. The model we have now is still the budget Verona (part leather/part synthetic) but has the added extra of suede on the knee and seat, which is great for that little extra bit of 'stickability'. The Pony GP is as you can see fairly straight cut - not so much as the WH or dressage models, but it has allowed for MiniD to ride in all disciplines not just her favoured flatwork - she has even jumped some XC logs in this saddle and it gives her plenty of support. She has ridden in it since she was about a year old - I just added a balance handle/monkey grip to the D-rings for when she was tiny.

We have two pairs of stirrup leathers - my favourite from a kids point of view are these Shires 'Easy Care Non Stretch Leathers' which have a curved buckle for minimal bulk under the thigh, and half holes for finer adjustment - great for growing legs. However I have found they wear pretty quickly, and despite being non-stretch actually have stretched a little. So we also have these Caldene ones - which are buttery soft leather and really really lovely

Stirrups are a minefield these days, and the prices of some of the modern 'safety stirrups' are eye-watering - MiniD has always ridden in bog-standard peacock safety stirrups, changed regularly as her feet grow to make sure they are the right size for her boots. I also check and change the leather tabs and rubber bands regularly (and always keep a spare set in the horsebox - nothing worse than having one ping at a rally...! It hasn't happened to me, but my spare did get borrowed by a friend one time!)

Tangle's bridle is one of my 'pride and joys' (you know how horsey people get over nice leather...) It's made by English Bridles, and is probably the longest-owned bit of kit Tangle has had. Despite our 'use and abuse' it stays beautifully soft and smart, and although we have added and swapped various browbands over the years (it came with a flat hunter style to match the noseband - but we like a bit of bling!) I love the narrow hunter style noseband on T's head - it's workmanlike enough for native showing, but elegant enough not to look wrong on her dainty features. It's a Small Pony size from the Pony range and fits perfectly. Now I've got to be honest, the prices have gone up quite a lot since I bought this bridle, and I probably would gulp a little at paying over £100 (I'm not sure if they still come with reins) for a child's bridle now - but it certainly has stood the test of time and still cleans up as smart as the day I bought it.

MiniD has recently started using the reins which came with the bridle - narrow 1/2" 'dressage' reins (half rubber) which are easy for her little hands to manage. But for most of the time that she has ridden Tangle, she's used Balanced Support Reins. Tangle isn't naughty or nappy so maybe these were an extravagance, but I cannot tell you the peace of mind they have given me over the past four years - seeing her through not only the 'dropping reins in trot to hold her handle' stage but also that tricky 'coming off the lead rein' period... And then all the hacking she started to do alongside me and my horse last year - I wouldn't have been half as happy with her cantering along loose with the big horses without the security blanket of those reins. Well worth the money. Incidentally, I bought new because I kept missing out on second-hand ones, and they don't sell second hand for much less than you pay new, so although initially it's a bit of a 'gulp' moment when cheap grass reins would do a similar job, I personally am glad I bought them (and although they've been hanging in the tack room a few months now, I can't bring myself to sell them on yet!) They're so quick and easy to fit, and much neater and smarter for all disciplines. MiniD has done all her PC rallies and camps with them, and a handful of shows too. Tangle wears the standard pony size, and they are just the right fit - we have mostly had them fitted on the very longest/loosest setting, but would move up one or two holes if she was a bit fresh and 'short' in her neck.

Moving on to MiniD, long term followers may well remember her riding in a multitude of wonderfully patterned leggings, straight from the high street! (H&M mostly!) MiniD has sensory issues with a lot of clothes, and couldn't wear traditional jods or breeches with a fastening on the waist - so high street leggings it was. That is, until we discovered Flexars! Again, slightly eye-watering when you take into account how quickly she grows and you need to replace her whole wardrobe - but the fact you can't pick any up second hand says a lot! So I got the pale pink pair in a sale - and they're the most impractical colour, within a week they had horse feed stains on them #sigh - but she loved them. Wouldn't take them off. I bought the beige pair thanking the fates I'd finally found something she deemed acceptable that would also be accepted by Pony Club (and then lockdown hit and she didn't actually need anything for pony club... thankfully as she was on the cusp of sizes, I sized up!) In the Black Friday sale, I bought her three more pairs - the navy, the lush new bright purple she's wearing in the photo, and the discontinued (cheap!) lilac.

We also discovered Pony Passion last year, and they too sell riding leggings. I've only been able to afford one pair so far - the 'Glitz and Glam' winter ones - they have a very thin fleece lining. MiniD has pretty much lived in them since they arrived just after Christmas. I mean literally. She takes them off for bed, and is pretty disappointed to be back at school and having to wear 'normal clothes' again! As soon as she gets home she changes into them. The fit is absolutely spot on. They have faded a fair bit where they have stretched over her knees, but otherwise I can't fault them, and they're just 'blingy' enough to satisfy a pony-mad 7yo without being horribly garish which was my first concern when I saw the photos of them!

MiniD's hat is a Charles Owen Junior Skull - her second now as she has grown. We have a *very* large collection of hat silks. Her favourite two are the lilac unicorn Pony Passion one you can see in the photos (Santa gave us matching ones - I have the same but with pink, to match my endurance tack <3 ) and a Derby House unicorn one with a giant pompom that 'Tangle bought her' for her lockdown birthday last year. Thankfully although she is an avid This Esme fan, she has not yet started asking for Le Mieux matchy-matchy (clashy-clashy is more our style!)

You'll see in two of the photos the wonderful clashy-clashy of the bright pink gilet against the bright orange Demi Dressage hoodie.... The gilet is from Jollytots, and as she won't generally wear a coat, it gets a lot of use. Added bonus is the applique of a pony on it looks rather a lot like Tangle! It's been discontinued, so I really wish I had bought the next size up too.

Finally in the photos you can see some of our lovely poles. We do a lot of polework, and I saved up for years to add to my small collection, so we now have twenty! The four 'Pony Club' coloured ones were (cough) Tangle's Christmas present to MiniD (i.e. it seemed less of an extravagance if I could pass some of them off as Christmas presents!) They are Polyjumps 'Pro' poles, which in the end after much debate and research I decided were the best value for money - some were ordered direct from Polyjumps who very kindly give you a discount on sets of poles as well as their various 'jump sets' if you ask, and the Pony Club ones along with the cute little rainbow ones you may have seen in some of our posts were from JSW Showjumps. They're good sturdy poles, but light enough that MiniD can help me set them out.

I hope some of this helps those of you who have asked about our tack and equipment in the past! It is my intention over time to review some of our favourite products, so if there's anything we use that you'd like to know more about, please do shout :)

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