Tack is Useful Art – The Stuff We Need and the Stuff We Love

I just wanted to mow the lawn. After weeks of rain the sky finally cleared. My grass was knee deep and I figured I could get a little done after the evening chores. But five minutes into the job one of the tires fell off its rim. Oh bother!

There was a time when this would have gotten my ire up, but I’m proud to say I stayed calm, assessed the situation, and walked away leaving the mower in the middle of the driveway. I decided I’d deal with it in the morning and watch a few YouTube videos on how to fix it.

A farm needs equipment and, unfortunately for me, that equipment needs maintenance and care. I’m not mechanically inclined (to put it mildly) but I’ve learned that any problem has a solution – you just have to find it. I rely on mechanical (and electronic) equipment every day to keep my farm running. My tractor, arena drag, field mower, computer, coffee pot, and lawn mower all make my life easier and better, but they all eventually wear out and break. It’s a pain (and expensive) when that happens but honestly, I have little emotional attachment to these things (except maybe for my tractor, Old Blue, who has served me long and well).

Tack is a different story. Tack is like treasured art to me, only better because it’s useful, not just beautiful. The care of tack isn’t complicated, and unlike machines tack does best when it’s used regularly.

Recently, I rummaged through my tack room looking for that perfect snaffle bit for a student’s horse. I pulled out an old sweet iron loose ring attached to beautiful handmade reins and a headstall. This bridle is at least 50 years old, and I can’t look at it without thinking of my mother, who I got it from, and the long-gone horseman she got it from. It reminds me of some pretty special horses too. It’s a bit that has just the right balance and size that a majority of horses are happy working in it.

Most horsemen agree we love tack – the smell, the look, and the stores where we buy it. People who make good saddles, bridles and boots are rare and treasured artisans. There’s a lot of training involved in making tack and also in fitting saddles, bridles and other gear to horses and riders.

I hope you enjoy our tack and equipment issue. And yes, I did figure out how to fix my lawn mower tire. One more lesson learned – check tire pressure before you mow!


June 2020


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