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!
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.
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.
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.
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?