Category Archives: Tack thoughts

Ralph Neighder Equine Consumer Report #1

OK, OK, probably a really silly name for this… But, I kinda liked it.  For those of you who are too young to know the reference, it is for Ralph Nader who is a consumer advocate.  There are groups called, Nader Raiders, who test products or corporate ideologies and report.  Anyway, since I like to try things and then document my results here, I thought I’d call it, Ralph Neighder Equine Reports.  Get it?  OK, here goes:

Today I have several products that I’ve ordered or found.  Not all of these things are really equine products.  Some are just ideas that I have…


I wrote about this two days ago but it was such a great find, I’m re-posting it here today. Basically, I wanted a three step mounting block but didn’t want to pay the high prices (best price online was $116 plus a hefty shipping charge).  I couldn’t find one on Craigslist and knew no one who could whip one up for me.  Did you  know that there are several patterns online if you want to make one?

But luckily (I’m doing a little jig here), I was at a boating store the other day and found this!  It was $75!  And there were several styles and sizes for me to peruse.  It works great and I’m really happy with the purchase!  So, go to your nearby marine store if you need a 2 or 3 step!


I wrote previously that I was ordering this.  I wanted a hay holder in my trailer that had no holes big enough for hooves.  (Don’t ask…)  I have tried the feeders that come with the trailer and that was a bad idea for my very high stepping front ended horses.  I’ve tried most hay bags with the big round hole in the bottoms and that didn’t work.  Hay nets are definitely out.  But then I saw this and decided to give it a try.

When it came, I thought it was well made but huge.  After putting a flake inside, I saw that it wasn’t huge.  I played with how to hang it in my trailer.  My best idea was to put a big clip through the top four rings to hold it closed and hang it.  I then used their strap to tighten it against the back of the trailer so it would stay facing forward and not twist.  That didn’t work so well.  But, I know I can come up with something to keep it in place since there are D-rings at the top and bottom.

I have to say that I didn’t notice any activity with the bag when I took Finn for a 20 minute ride around the neighborhood.  I don’t know if he was too busy gawking to eat, or if I needed to show him how to use it.  I think I will pull out a few strands the next time we go and see if he gets it.  I’m sure, if he was hungry enough, he’d figure it out.  All in all, I think this is a good hay bag for people who have horses who get their feet stuck in them.  On the downside, it was kinda spendy and shipping wasn’t cheap —  however it is made by a Mom-n-Pop type outfit so I do appreciate that.


OK, this is where I may go off the deep end, pardon the awful pun. When I was at the marine store, I also saw a few items that I thought could work in the equine world.  Here are my ideas.  We’ll see if they are ridiculous ideas or if they just look ridiculous.

1)  Boat Tow Harness ($12.99):  I don’t know the actual use for this but I thought it could be a good everyday rein.  It had really good snaps already attached and it was very lightweight.  When I opened it up, I liked it even more because it was the perfect length!  But, it has a handle at the gathering point which is awkward for me because I use two reins.  I think I will just undo it or orientate it the other way.

I used Beautiful Girl as my demonstration horse today and she absolutely preferred the yellow rein to the blue one.  When I gave
her the choice between the blue or the yellow, she chose the yellow each time.  In fact, I think she chose it every time but just the once she sniffed the blue one.  Anyway, I know the clips on the yellow were heavier than the blue rein at her bridle which gave a more clear signal.  But as far as her response time, nothing was changed.  In fact, I think the light feel of both of these reins was especially pleasing to her.  As for me, I preferred the snaps on the yellow one and the weight of the blue rein.  Truth to tell, I really liked using these reins!  They were very light, very comfortable and the horse liked them.  Too bad I’m gonna look real funny if I go out on the trail with them…

2)  4 Rider Tube Tow Rope ($17.99):  I got this because I thought it would work great for ground driving lines.  And, you got 2 for 1 in this package.  You get the 50′ rope for the ground driving reins and then a bonus set of 10′ rope that I show here as another set of reins (I had to add the clips).  These are the blue reins I was speaking about above.  This blue set doesn’t have the weird floating handle thing of the yellow set, so it felt better to me as a two handed rider.  And, this rein is more thick than the yellow which I preferred.  So, if I wanted to look totally silly and make people point and stare on the trail, these reins would be for me!  And, of course, any of these can get wet without any issue for when my horse and I go yachting.

As far as the long ground driving rein, they would have to be cut to make two reins since this is a loop. But, that’s easy…  So, for a lightweight but sturdy ground driving rein, I think this will work very well!  And, with or without gloves, this material was very comfortable.

Oh and another bonus, the double rein set also comes with a sturdy velcro wrap which helps keep it together when you want to store it – very good with long reins.  (My little Icy filly is a bit embarrassed that I have put these boating objects on her as tack.  Look at her face! – Kinda like when I offer my jeans to my 13 year-old daughter… “You aren’t really going to make me wear this, are you??!)

EQUINE HOOF BANDAGE (better known as the “smarter than me” boot…)

I found this in the Valley Vet catalog because I needed a boot the other day and thought this might work. It arrived and I was surprised about the way it actually appears versus its picture in the catalog.  I wanted to show you how it is laid out.  And, then I wanted to show you how it looks on a horse.  Or at least, that’s what I wanted to do..

I didn’t know I was assembly challenged. I thought that when I assembled this, it would look just like the catalog photo...  Yikes.  Alright, I admit that I am no mensa, but I do have a degree.  You’d think I could manage this.  However, it was more difficult than I had the brain or brawn to do correctly.  I mean, they have it spelled out, basically, but unless you read the instructions first (and who does?), you’d be lost out there.  And, the velcro is so strong you could hook it onto a blimp, hang on and fly across the continent, swinging…

Anyway, my initial mistake was not reading the directions first.  What I did, and what I think everyone does, is just put the item in the trailer until you need it.  So, I put the bag with the hoof bandage in the trailer.  Then, today, I just opened the package and put the thing on the ground.  I then asked my mare to put her foot exactly where it says to put her foot according to the diagram.  Approximately 10 minutes later (easier said than done…), we had the foot placed.  OK, then I had to velcro it.  But, I hadn’t read the instructions so I didn’t know what the numbers meant.  Do I put 1 to 6?  Or does it go across?  Diagonally?  Hmmmm.  It isn’t intuitive.  Or, if it is, I didn’t get it… Alright, back to the trailer to read the package.  Once there, I see that there is also a pad that you are supposed to vet wrap or sticky into the base of the boot before you wrap it.  OK.  But, it was waaaaay too large so remember to cut that down before you use this.  Anyway, I got the instructions and started over.  She put her hoof kinda in the right spot and I started wrapping.  1 with 2,  3 with 4, 5 with 6 No NoNO don’t move!!!  Oy, OK, let’s try that again… 1 with 2 and now I gotta undo 3 and 4.  AAARRGHHHH!  I pulled as hard as I could, with her foot and 1000 lbs holding it down, and I still could not, I swear to you, undo 3 and 4.  The velcro was so tight that I had to give up.  As you can see in the photos, I undid the others and left that one.

Obviously, this wrap thing is beyond me.  It looks like my Christmas wrapping — bad.  I just cannot wrap things with structure.  However, I’m a Ninja when it comes to medicinal hoof wrapping, but that’s another story…

So, I guess if you get this boot, play with it first.  I’m not saying it is a bad product, just not as easy, for me, as I had hoped.

As far as function, I think it would work for trail riding but maybe not for a hoof that has an injury that you need to keep clean…  However, I still think it is a good product to have in your saddle bag because it folds up flat and works in that application (stone bruise or lost shoe).  Or, if you have a zip line, you could velcro yourself to it with this thing and never fall off…  In fact, I think the police should use these instead of handcuffs.  Wrap these babies on the perps wrists and then slap them against a velcro wall.  Ain’t nobody goin’ nowhere!


I wrote about these in my stirrup review thinking that they looked like a good idea. Finally, I purchased a set and they arrived recently.  I really like them!  They are exceedingly lightweight!  Yum!  However, if you have short legs like I do, you need to know that these stirrups add several inches to the length of your leathers so you will have to shorten your straps accordingly.  Also, the brown color isn’t very pretty, in my estimation.  They kinda look plastic cast (which they are…) and flimsy (which they aren’t).  Maybe the black would look better.  But, aside from that, they work great and are very nice.  I find the foot pad to be the exact correct width for my feet.  My knees don’t hurt after a long ride.  I’m happy.  Here is the website.  They are on sale right now.  (I have no affiliation.)


I purchased this from Valley Vet because it was the least expensive one that I hadn’t tried already. I wanted to add an item to my total in order to get free shipping, so I chose this.  I got the large size in green.

Well, as you know, I reviewed fly masks a while ago in a previous post.  There are several qualities I look for in a mask.  The first is durability, especially in the velcro straps.  The second is darts for the eyeballs.  The third is a fitted bottom so the flies don’t just crawl up to the face — eegh.  Next, I like a longer fly mask that covers most of the face.  And, finally, I like ear holes that fit well and if I am really lucky, a forelock hole.

OK, well, this mask has nice velcro (hasn’t been put to the test yet but it is double flapped) and has nice darts.  My mare, Gwen, who hates flymasks but was willing to model for us today, isn’t automatically shaking her head because she hates the material rubbing on her lashes.  That’s good.  The fitting around the face and neck is good.  The ear holes fit.  But, there is no forelock hole which is bad for a ranch full of Morgans and hairy breeds.  So, that is one ding.  The other ding is that this is a size Large or Horse size.  Gwen usually wears an Arab size.  She’s a Morgan with a fairly petite head.  Hmmmmm.  This mask would never fit a normal sized horse.  So, if you purchase this, size up.  Also, as you can see, it is rather short on her face.  So, it would be like high-water pants on the face of an average horse…

All in all, it is a good mask for the money ($14.99) but size up.


I purchased this today from the site because it cracked me up!  And, it was on sale ($10.99).  I think it makes the horse look like the Avenger or maybe a Horsey Pro Wrestler!  I find it very interesting that it has a zipper!  How did they do that?  Could a zipper hold up against a rolling horse?  Maybe that is why it is on sale.  Maybe the zipper didn’t work out so well?  I will let you know.  I got it in XL so that I could put it on Hubby’s horse, Bodhi.  I want the big draft horse to look like 007 or Nacho Libre!  Maybe a Ninja Turtle if they had it in green…  ;)

OK, well that is all for today’s Neighder Report… more later, for sure!

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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

Fly Mask Review. ‘Tis the Season!

I don’t generally write two tack thoughts in a row.  But, as the flowers bloomed and the flies buzzed today, I considered having one of my mares don her fly mask for the first time this Spring.  I went to retrieve it and noted that I had 8 different types of masks — all dirty.  Hmmmmm.  So, as I brought them into the house for washing (that’s always fun to de-tangle the velcro, eh?), I thought this was a timely topic.

Fitting a fly mask is like fitting a custom sink.  Oy.  One wrong measurement and you’re either cutting the counter or raising the cupboards.  If you have a varied herd of heads like I do, you’ll end up with an array of masks, or a few “custom jobs” if you know what I mean…  ;)   What fits my Morgan won’t fit my TWH.  My donkey wears the same as my Mustang (go figure) and the Shetlands are in-between a yearling and a pony size, no matter what.  What seems so simple, isn’t.  You’ve gotta look at the space between their ears, the sensitivity of the poll, the eye socket, the throat latch, the length of face, narrowness of nose, etc… —  or not.  There isn’t one fly mask that fits all horses.  So, I thought I would fill you in on all of my fly mask purchasing adventures.  Maybe it will help you.  Here is a link to a website that compares all the prices.  Pretty cool.

This is a cool new mask that I saw at the Horse Expo last year.  Have you seen this?  It fits over your bridle for trail or arena work.  My very spoiled horse, Aladdin, got one of these very soft, lovely items last year and he wore it as his fly mask, successfully, all season.  However, that isn’t their function — they are supposed to be worn gently.  But Aladdin isn’t a fly mask saboteur.  You know what I mean…  The horse that spends all day taking everyone’s fly masks off and stomping them into the ground, never to be seen again.  Sigh.  Anyway, this handy item is a very soft and gentle fly mask to wear over your bridle or over the kissy face of your favorite mount — as long as you know it might not last as a true fly mask.

OK, Let the true survey begin!

Well, I wish I had something good to say here.  But, truth to tell, I bought a dozen of these and not ONE has any velcro left.  And, the destruction was almost instant.  I think they had a sleepy seamstress on the line last year or something…  I have no idea who they used as horsey testers, but it certainly wasn’t anyone from my herd!  Sad to say but I cannot recommend these masks.

I think we all have a pile of these old standbys.  Here is my pile (pre-wash).  Farnum  was the first in fly mask manufacturing and there is a lot to be said for having been around for a while.  Basically, the design fits most horses.  However, it is a random fit.  And, if there is a seed or burr anywhere within 10 feet of the mask, it will end up caught in the fleece border.  But, they are reasonably priced and come in many colors, which I like.  I never have to figure out which goes where.  I just color code.  Garanimals of fly masks.

OK, this mask fit is very large.  I bought Large and XL for my TWH and Draft horse.  The Large is swimming on my Draft…   I have no idea what Behemoth horse they fitted these monsters, but this mask would make Samson feel petite.  As far as structure, they have ear holes that are somewhat narrow for a regular horse.  The nose is very long and not much for eye darts.  They do have double velcro so it stays ON.  But, my horse who likes to rub has shredded the side of it.  I think this would be good for a large horse with a narrow face.

This mask seemed like it would be great.  It has really nice eye socket pooches, the felt is smooth and it has a flap velcro closure.  Bummer that they shred/snag really easily and the poll to nose measurement is short.  I don’t know what kind of horse fits this except maybe a Cobb or an Arab.  I had to re-fashion these to fit my Walkers and Morgan.  I just cut a dart on each side for the ears.  But, after that, the velcro fell off.  Hmmmm.  Is it just me?

I really like this one.  It has a very smooth felt liner, nice narrowing at the nose, decent ear holes, a forelock hole, eye socket darts…   The length from poll to nose is somewhat shorter than others.  But, the Cashell is really nice and will probably last all season.  The only downside, really, is that it is kinda spendy.

I bought this because of the cute packaging and it was an internet sale deal.  The manufacturer is Intrepid International.  Have you ever bought a medium T-shirt and when you got it home you realized it would only fit your Barbie?  ‘Nuff said.

This could be my favorite of all.  It has the important things, eye socket darts, smooth felt, tapered nose, regular sized ear holes and a flap velcro closure.  The only thing I don’t like is the poll cover.  It says it is breathable but you’d have to ask the horse, eh?  Dunno.  This mask is reasonably priced but only comes in a few colors.  I do like this one although it may be a bit short for longer nosed horses.

This mask fits my donkey, Norma, very well.  It has huge ear holes, no eye darts and a very loooooong nose.  But, Norma has a huge brow so the eye dart thing doesn’t really effect her.  If you have a horse that has a long face and big ears, this is the mask for you!  It has held up well considering she lives with the ponies…

I really liked the look of these and they were a “show special” at the Horse Expo, so I purchased a dozen.  The material is very solid, the felt won’t hoover every fleck of dirt, it has eye socket room and a flap velcro closure.  They are built like the Farnum only sturdier, or so I thought… Yes, they fit several different shaped fuzzy noggins but out of 12 masks, only 6 still have their velcro.  I also noted that there is no brand on the mask.  This makes me think that the manufacturer makes these for a few distributors.  Not sure.  Anyway, I really like the 6 I have left… but they aren’t as hearty as I had hoped.

So, that is my missive on fly masks…  I hope this helps you in your decisions this fly season!

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