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looking for cheap tack

From: Jody

Dear Jessica,

I don't really mean CHEAP cheap tack, just inexpensive tack, but I don't know a better way to put it, maybe you can think of a better way. I live in an area where a lot of us have horses but nobody has a lot of money. We get all the tack shop catalogs and they're real pretty, but practically nobody I know can afford the stuff in there, or the new stuff in the tack stores either. I should also say that we only have two tack stores around here, and they are both really more farm stores than tack stores. They will special-order something if you want it, but they don't carry a whole lot of tack and clothes. Do you know any catalogs or shops that carry a lot of used tack and clothes? Or, do you know any other way that we could get more stuff around here without paying so much for it? This probably seems like a silly question, but I'm hoping you may answer it anyways. Thanks! Jody

Hi Jody -- this isn't a silly question, at all. I think that we're all in the same boat, to a greater or lesser degree. Everyone I know gets those lovely shiny catalogues with all the beautiful colour photos of saddlery and clothing, and everyone I know is always looking for ways to get nice things for their horses and themselves WITHOUT spending the entire budget. I know of several ways to get nice things without having to order them at full price.

Discount catalogues can be helpful, although you will need to be very aware of current prices and brands, so that you won't be surprised to get something that's poor quality, or something that's "discounted" from an imaginary, much-higher-than-standard-retail price. If a girth is advertised as "regularly selling for $60, on sale for $45" and you can buy it in any or all other catalogues for $43.50, full retail, and if you find the same thing true of the "discounted" saddles, bridles, and clothing, you may become a little cynical about "discount" catalogues.

As you suggested, there is always USED tack and clothing. This is often the BEST option, as buying used items will often allow us to own high-quality items that we couldn't possibly afford new. And a top-quality used saddle in good shape -- for instance -- is worth much, much more than a lesser-quality NEW saddle!

Check local consignment shops -- not just tack shops -- and other shops with recycled, low-priced items. You'd be surprised at what you can find. One of my students once found a very nice pair of riding boots in her size at a GoodWill store, and tack often shows up in unlikely places like pawn shops! It doesn't hurt to make friends with shopowners and staff -- you can ask them to ring you if likely items come in.

If you are lucky enough to be in an area with some large tack shops, you should make regular trips to their "used" and "consignment" departments.Since your area does NOT have such shops, I have a different suggestion for you: get together with all of the other horse-owners in your area for a day's tack-sale and swap meet. If you bring the items that you don't need or don't want, and everyone else does the same, you may all go home happy. Plus, it will help clean out the tackroom!

The internet itself can be a great place to find used items of tack and clothing -- some "used" items, in fact, have barely been used at all. I've bought saddles from individuals through the Internet, and some of them have not been ridden in enough to leave marks on the flaps or stretch the outside billets! Look for ads on the various horse-related lists and newsgroups -- Equine-L, for instance, has a weekly "Fleamarket" section that lists used items for sale, as well as a "Tack Exchange" section that lists items for exchange. Rec.eq is an always-active newsgroup, and someone is always selling a saddle or a bridle or clothing -- just watch for the ads.

Put up your own ads -- WANTED TO BUY: SADDLE, with full description of the type (or better yet, brand, model, tree width, and seat size) you want; or WANTED TO BUY: riding jacket, again with all the details of size, style, colour, etc. I've found this to be a VERY effective way to find items.

Everything I've said for the Internet goes for on-paper ads as well -- post "Wanted To Buy" ads at your local tack shops, call other tack shops and ask what they have for sale, and put ads in other places where riders are likely to see them: feed stores, for instance. Use ALL media -- the advantage of the Internet is that no single person can remove your ad. ;-)

When it comes to clothing, if you can sew, or bribe someone you know who can sew, Suitability has a lot of very nice patterns for riding clothes. People who can sew can make their own saddle pads from fleece, quilted cotton, or polarfleece -- and people who can sew REALLY well can even make their own jackets and breeches! And if they are your friends or relatives, who knows, they might even make YOUR jackets and breeches....

Good luck!


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