"A mecate for a hackamore has to be the right material and be pretty," says Jenna Dempze of one of her favorite pieces of equipment. Photo © Impulse Photography

We Ask Exhibitors: The One Piece of Tack You Can’t Live Without

We’ve all been there. We show up to the barn to ride and we forgot our boots and we have to borrow someone else’s. No matter how well they fit, you still don’t get the same feel that you are used to in your own boots.

This could easily be the case for a number of beloved items that either didn’t make it out of the trailer or back to the barn for whatever reason. We all know the feeling of missing our one staple item and trying to go without it can be extremely difficult.

Here we asked several trainers and exhibitors what their favorite, “must-have” tack items were that they couldn’t imagine living without. What’s yours?

Julie Wolf Voge– The one piece of equipment I can’t live without is my Chuck Letchworth bits.

Julian Harris– My Bob’s work saddle. It’s super broken in and I can ride anything in it.


Jeremy LaRose– I have two pieces of tack that I definitely can’t live without. One is a red lunge line that is the perfect weight and length with no rubber stopper and is made out of a rope that I haven’t been able to find since. It won’t burn your hands, and it just has a great feel to it. I got it like 10 years ago. The other is my copper twist snaffle that goes on literally everything in the barn. Whenever I get a new horse in, it’s the first thing in their mouth. I’m going to be very sad soon because it’s wearing down to almost nothing.




Taylor Gumz-
My favorite piece of tack that I could not live without is my Nike tennis shoes, without question. I know that sounds odd, but they make life so much easier with making our yearling videos. I go through a pair a season.

Lauren Diaz – I would say some tack that I probably couldn’t live without are my saddles. Although I have sold a few, there are a couple that I refuse to get rid of, those being the two all-around saddles I won in Ohio my last two years of youth. Both were customized, one by myself and one by my mom, which was a surprise with Auburn colors and the logo which makes it very special to me. I also really won’t let go of my show clothes. I guess I’m holding on to a small bit of hope that I will get back into showing again after school and the clothes themselves.


Sarah Lebsock– My helmet. It helps me when my horse turns into a dragon. Safety first.






Sharnai Thompson
– I cannot live without my spurs. They are short shank Tom Balding spurs and I’ve had them for probably 20 years when Jamie Pait bought them for me on my birthday.








Joanne Garnett– Probably the one piece of equipment I can’t live without is the custom spurs my husband made for me when I got So Much Potential aka Louis. When Louis is retired I am also going to retire my spurs.







Rachel Kolb– These days, my single favorite piece of tack is any bridle with a shanked snaffle that I can take out to the field, put on a horse, and go for a ride bareback around the family farm. That’s the only piece of tack I need and one of my favorite things to do is ride around the farm bareback.






Jenna Jacobs– It may sound silly but I can’t live without draw reins. They’re my go-to for everything. Bigger stride? Draw reins. More hock? Draw reins. Just unsure about your ride in general? Draw reins.






Jim Chafin– This one is easy. My Harris work saddles and a good set of snaffle bits.









Beckie Peskin – One piece of tack I cannot live without is my old showmanship lead shank. I tried to retire it when my current horse somehow pulled it into his stall and snacked on it, but I keep pulling it back out and showing with it.


Sarah Rosciti
– I cannot live without electrical taping the tops of my boots to ride every time. Then, a caveson and twisted snaffle would be my others. I always ride with a caveson.





Juliana Blackburn-Baskin
– My black saddle because my mom had it specially dyed for me.










Paige Wacker– Electrical tape. My feet are super narrow and if I don’t tape them before I ride, my boots basically fall off my feet.








Hillary Roberts – For me, draw reins are my go-to piece of tack. If I’m having a problem getting something accomplished, or I feel my horse and I aren’t connecting, I always grab a set of draw reins and put them on whatever bridle I’m using. Draw reins allow me to help the horse better understand what I’m asking for because I can shape their body how I want much more efficiently than using traditional reins. In my opinion, there’s no quicker way to get back to square one than by using a set of draw reins.






Ellexxah Maxwell– I can’t live without my back on track pad. With as much showing as we do, my horse is bound to get back sore. Riding in the back on track pad keeps her loose and ready to show every weekend.






Parris Rice- My favorite piece of tack has to be my English saddle. I won it at a show about 10 years ago (one of the best prizes ever because I had just outgrown my kid one), and broke it in myself. It’s form fitted to my butt. I’ve had to borrow other people’s saddles before on occasions when mine didn’t make the trailer and they were horrifying moments in my life…not to sound too dramatic. Plus, it’s been with me through all three equitation World Championships and my Congress Championship. I’d like to think there’s some good luck in there.






Sydney Scheckel – Definitely my Blue Ribbon show halter. It is so sentimental to me. It has my name on the noseband. I’ve had it since I was 12 and plan to use it forever. My mom ordered it at the Youth World for me because she knew how much I loved the showmanship and didn’t mind making such an investment on such a nice piece of tack. It takes being a halter to a whole new level as it also serves as a nice bridle to ride bareback in. Whenever I look at it, it reminds me of so many wonderful memories. I plan on having it in my dorm room at Baylor and hanging it on the corner of a portrait of Pip.

Adam Mathis
– It’s definitely tough to think about just one or two pieces of equipment that I couldn’t go without. First, I would say my spurs because they have a lot of sentimental value attached to them and they have a different feel to them that I like. If I had to pick another I’d say my saddle. We all know saddles ride different but I like the way it fits. Since you’re in it all day, you want a comfortable saddle for you and your horse and mine fits me just right.


Lainie DeBoer
– There are two pieces of tack that I cannot live without. First are my special Tom Thumb spurs that Holly Spagnola made for me when I was third at the World on her horse, Pippy. Not only are they lucky, but they are the perfect length. My legs are really short and I have fairly strong legs (from being a speed skater), so I don’t use a very big spur. These spurs seem to work with most horses. The second thing that I train all my horses in is a three-piece, loose ring, French link snaffle, made by KK, with rubber bit guards. It is by far my favorite bit from day-to-day. The horses all love it and I find it really works well with my flat work. It is extremely mild and it teaches the horses to accept my hand and not be afraid of holding on to the bit. When we ride hunters, we want them to pull to the jump a bit, so for me, this is just the perfect bit for that.




Breanne Porter – The one item I can’t live without is my LeSon security (underpad) blanket. It’s perfect for my height because it is thin enough that my legs can touch the horse. And it never slips, which helps with one of my biggest issues. I also have a pair of 10-point roweled spurs that are worn down on the rowels. They have worn down to the exact feeling I like. I ride my sensitive horses and break my babies with them. They are irreplaceable.



Katerina Mendel
– I would have to say my Harris work saddle with the purple seat for sure. Also, I can’t live without my Logan boots. They’re the best.







Farley McLendon – I have two bits that I love. One is a Greg Darnall smooth snaffle and second is a Rod Tuescher loose ring big twist snaffle. I’ve ridden a lot of horses in both of those.






Whitney Wilson – A piece of tack that I wouldn’t be able to live without would definitely be bell boots. Losing a shoe at home is enough trouble, let alone while lunging your horse before a class.









Jenna Dempze – That’s a tough one. I would have to say a work saddle that rides good and a quality set of reins. Leather reins for a bridle have to be the right weight, length, and oiled just right. And a mecate for a hackamore has to be the right material and be pretty.




Meghan Murphy
– I rode horsemanship for Baylor University in college and it may be the collegiate rider in me, but I’ve been taught that the equipment should not be as important as the rider’s ability to use it effectively. I have learned that a good ride generally has good communication, which is facilitated by the ability to adjust to my horse, and the equipment I have in that moment in time. That being said, I do have a favorite pair of spurs. I have a great pair that I won years ago. I like the shank length and shape and mostly the overall weight of these spurs. They aren’t the only pair I use, I have a few in the rotation, but this specific pair is usually my favorite. However, I can definitely live without this pair of spurs. Sometimes I don’t have them with me at the barn and I do just fine without them.

Beth Case– A snaffle!






What’s one piece of tack you can’t live without? Let us know!