Cheap Stuff That Lasts (Part 1)

For some things, like a saddle, or a pair of good show breeches, I’ll splurge a little. And I absolutely recognize the value of many of the innovate horsey items out there. But sometimes, you have to compromise with cheap in order to also go to a show, or put a little money in savings, or buy groceries, or whatever. (Hey, I’m not judging–we’ve definitely had the “I’ve got a show coming up so it’s only chicken this week” conversation at the grocery store.) When that happens, it’s pretty awesome that there are so many inexpensive alternatives to a lot of horsey things these days.

But not all of those alternatives are worth the money you save. So to make your life a little simpler, here are a few things I’ve gone cheap(ish) on that have really worked out quite nicely. Everything on these lists will be at least 2 years old and in great shape. I didn’t really start building my collection until about midway through college so I’ve only had so long to really test out the durability of some of my horsey goods, but as I abuse more stuff, I’ll add a part 2, and maybe even part 3!

First up…

Tattini tall boots

Specifically, the Breton boots. I bought these from a vendor when I went to HITS Ocala in March of 2014, and they were a super worthwhile purchase. Weirdly enough, I haven’t found any U. S. retailers who stock them since. My previous Ariats had barely lasted a year before they were really broken down at the ankle, and had never stopped rubbing my ankles something fierce. These bad boys came to the rescue, and I showed in them the day after I bought them, because the leather is so soft and supple. I paid around $300 for them almost 3 years ago, but they’re even cheaper with all the weird exchange rates going on right now (around $215 before shipping). They’ve never rubbed me, and I’ve really abused them quite a bit. I regularly wear them 3-6 times a week, for anything from 1-3 horses a day, plus grooming and bathing in them. I’ve worn them for long show days without taking them off, and they’re as comfy now as when I first bought them. There basically was no break in, and yet they’re still in great shape and have felt like wearing half-chaps since day one.

I did get the zippers replaced once after about 2 years of wear, but zipper replacement was quick and easy, and with their nice new YKK zippers, I shouldn’t have any problems before the boots really die, theoretically anyway. Even after paying for new zippers, they were only a little more than the Ariats I had before them, and I love them so much more.

They do have an odd texture to them on the outsides, and there are no height options, but especially if you’re looking for a schooling boot, these are so great. I can’t speak to the other boot types by this brand as I don’t have much experience with those, other than the Boxers a friend bought a few months back. Hers broke in quickly as well, though not quite as fast, and seem to be a smidge sturdier than my buttery soft boots, but she’s in love all the same. For the both of us, it seems the boots fit pretty true to size. I recommend airing on the snug size calf wise though, since they do have the stretch panel.

Top: Second day after buying the boots and second day showing in them. Supple leather saving me from near death by allowing me to jam my heels down for this crazy long spot. Bottom: Just this weekend, and they could really use a good polish but otherwise look great still.

HDR 3 point breast plate with a running attachment

Shortly after getting back from Ocala, I bought this. Val needed a running martingale but wasn’t my horse and I didn’t want to spend a fortune. I liked the idea of the breastplate with an attachment option, because I sometimes pull out draw reins too, and threading them through their legs worries me because I’m just a worrier. I also wanted something with elastic so it wouldn’t be restrictive, and I didn’t want a lot of color. I love navy, but I jut prefer boring tack. Because I’m a worrier, I was also concerned about the extra bit that goes over the withers on a lot of breastplates rubbing Val or being in any way uncomfortable, so I wasn’t against that part, but I was wary.

Suffice it to say, I had a lot of criterion, and this fit the bill perfectly. It’s not the fanciest piece of tack I own by a long shot and the sizing is weird–Val is a cob in most things, but I ordered the horse size, and with the extra clips I bought, the shoulders are just long enough (I still need to pick up dee savers so that would help too) but then I had to punch a bunch of holes in the girth loop and the running attachment. But the great thing about both of these things is that they’re made so you can put as many holes as you could possibly want.

While a lot of running attachments only have space for the 3 or 4 pre-punched holes, the attachment on this one is an entirely folded over leather strip so that it’s super duper adjustable. So minor annoyance regarding sizing? Yes, but it was an easy fix and ticked the other boxes. This gets used every single time I ride him, and shows no wear other than needing to be cleaned. It’s only got the single elastic and isn’t double thick, but the elastic is still tight and sturdy, despite definitely getting pulled on over large fences from time to time.

Top: Holding my saddle on after I forgot to tighten my girth in the first picture I could find with the new breastplate. Bottom: Honestly just an excuse to share this picture again, but hey, almost 3 years and it’s still sturdy and in great shape.

Cheapy Dover Bridle

No really, the cheapest one they have. Val actually currently goes in one that is one step up because I liked the extra padding behind the brow band and it’s got a different noseband,  but I can’t find the exact match. I do have several of these though, and yes a little fancy stitching is undone right near high use areas like buckles, and once Val stepped on his longeline and made a cheekpiece shorter. But the beauty of these, is that at $45 a pop, it didn’t make me nearly as twitchy as the girl whose horse once went gallivanting in her Edgewood. I think I have 2 plus the bridle Val goes in right now, and I’ve had them for years as well. They wipe down great, and are much softer right from the get go than most other cheap bridles, with even a little padding on the noseband and brow band. Even he spare I leave hanging in the tack room all the time is still soft and nice, with almost no use in the past several months, while the bridle I’ve used on the daily for 2+ years looks great. I occasionally slap a little conditioner on, but it’s fairly self-sufficient, and even when it’s damp, the mildew doesn’t like to grow on it very much.

While I would love a gorgeous CWD figure 8, the fancy stitching and padding on this at least makes it look like it costs more than it does as well, and I like only having one piece of tack I really have to baby.

It’s got a little bit of cheap bridle shininess, but hey, he makes it look good I think.

Do you have any items you went cheap on that you’ve loved and gotten a lot of use out of, or do you prefer to stick to higher quality items? Is there anything you’ve got cheap on that you wish you’d splurged on instead?

14 thoughts on “Cheap Stuff That Lasts (Part 1)

  1. Jenn

    This isn’t a tack item, but I swear by blue Dawn dish soap to whiten white socks…it’s literally the best thing ever, and it’s SO cheap! You can get a huge bottle at the grocery store for barely $2, and it lasts forever. People are always asking how I get Roger’s socks so white, and they’re shocked when I hold up the bottle of blue Dawn. I haven’t bathed Roger’s full body in it (I know some people that do), but it’s been really fantastic for washing his legs as well as his open-front boots in the summer, to avoid that weird sweaty skin funk. Definitely a cheap item, that works great!!

    1. II use Dawn or Dial dish soap for entire bodies in the summer and it works GREAT. I especially love it for washing legs really good, because the anti-bacterial helps with any fungus they might be brewing.

  2. now THIS is a subject near and dear to my heart too haha!!! i’ve bought a LOT of cheap stuff that…. doesn’t last lol (more than i care to admit) but the stuff that DOES last and IS economical?? solid gold, y’all.

  3. I have a $50 Dover gift card burning in my wallet, so I guess Petunia is getting a new bridle!

    And for the white socks, if Dove doesn’t work, go to Sally’s Beauty Supply and buy the generic Clairol Shimmer Lights shampoo. It’s bright purple and $6. Works like a charm!

  4. Seconding the cheapy Dover bridle! I got one two years ago and abuse the daylights out of it. I use it when it’s raining, for trail rides, for jump schools, and it looks pretty much the same. Definitely a cheapy that holds up.

    I’ve also found that the Ovation synthetic girth is the only thing that works in summer for my delicate flower that gets rubs if you look at him funny. Cheapest girth around, washes down with a hose, looks fine for dressage shows, and zero rubs.

  5. I think I can count on one hand the amount of NEW tack I’ve bought over the past 2.5ish years haha Everything else is used and still working good- I hold on to what works for the mareface and me and sell/trade whatever doesn’t!

    1. I’m finally there too! I really don’t have any tack needs at this point now that I seem to have a setup that is lasting pretty well. It’s pretty nice, except that all the sales that pop up bum me out…

  6. Ditto the dish soap. I like to buy sponges, soap, baby wipes… I also buy baby powder and gold bond powder for under wraps. I can’t do super crappy leather. It hurts my soul but I do have a no name bridle that I have had for a good 12 years and it is the best. Interesting topic!

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