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CathyJ

Is A Rear Cinch Necessary When Trailriding?

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Somebody tell me the purpose of a rear cinch on a saddle when trailriding. This past weekend I rode in a group and one of the riders had a rear cinch hanging down more than 2 inches from the horse's belly. I've seen many, many trailriders using rear cinches. Some of them hang down at least 2 inches or more from the horse's belly. IMO that is asking for disaster. Our trails are littered with sticks and broken tree branches. Sometimes the horse steps on the branch just right and flips it up with the front foot. I can just see that stick going right into that rear cinch. Sometimes we have to go around treefall on the trail which means brushpopping and I think those rear cinches are dangerous in that situation.

I once asked someone on a trailride why they used a rear cinch and they said it keeps their saddle from flipping forward when going downhill. I've never used a rear cinch and I can honestly say my saddle has never flipped forward when going down a hill, and I've gone down some steep hills. And if the cinch is hanging down 2 inches or more, how is that going to keep the saddle in place?

Isn't the purpose of a rear cinch to keep a saddle in place when roping or doing ranch work?

Somebody educate me please!

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Hi! I'm kinda a novice here, but my trainer suggested I use a second cinch with my studly pony as he's likely to throw me. She calls it a "bucking strap" I guess it doesn't need to be tight for that use as it's only meant to keep the saddle from acting as a catapault for the rider. There are probably other reasons, but that's what I've been told. I don't think it's always necessary.I've never used one on the trail.' I think that as with anything else, I'd weigh the pros and cons in each situation.

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I keep my saddle dressed with a breast collar and a rear cinch all the time. The rear cinch comes in handy for keeping the saddle in position on the trail. It keeps the saddle from slapping me in the backside or bouncing on my horses back as we tackle the wilderness areas we have around here. (Not to mention the extra spots to attach my saddlebags.) I do a lot of ponying of pack horses and we ride over some pretty rough terain here in Colorado and a rear cinch just gives you that extra sense of confidence.

However, that said, failure to use your tack correctly has the potential to get you and your riding companions hurt in a hurry and I can tell you right now that 2" of slack in the rear cinch is an accident waiting to happen. All of the things you suggested can happen plus plenty of others. If you ride with a rear cinch the cinch should be snug against the horse and as with most of your tack it should be checked as you ride to make sure it is doing its job. [Duh]

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plus if you us a rear cinch make sure you have a strap attaching it to the front so that it doesn't slideback on you which could cause the horse to buck. It sould be only tight enough so that the back cinch can still hang properly.

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I use a back cinch too and a breast collar. I know a lot of people that don't though. It can also vary depending on the horse and saddle whether you "need" one or not. I know a friend of mine got a new sadle and when going down hill the saddle would flip up without a back girth. ..but same horse, same trails with her old saddle she never used a back cinch.

I have just always used one.

Edited by trailhoss2

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I keep my back cinch so it's tight to the belly, but not so tight I can't easily slide my hand between it and the horse's belly. I've seen them hanging way down too, and it scares me. People will continue to use them like that, till they get either a foot or branch caught up in it. I hope before then, they learn to tighten it up more.

I use a breast collar and back cinch, because it helps to keep my saddle in place, as I ride with a loose cinch. And as already stated, it keeps one from being catapulted over the horse's head if the back flips up. I've seen it happen when the horse decided to crow hop and then let er buck.

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Rear cinch my not be neccessary if you only ride in a arena, but on any kind of trail ride, I think they can make a difference. I also use both rear cinch & breast collar, I tighten rear cinch when first saddling, after you ride a while it generally loosens up enough where it is has some give to it, but not hanging down. Anybody that has rear cinch hanging down 2 inches, should rethink how they use it. PD

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Cathy.. some of them trails in Shawnee forest are so steep that I won't ride without the back cinch or breast collar. Even then I've seen a lot of saddles end up on the horses's neck or slide back or flip up in back.

I have to admit, I'm one of those people that a lot of times has my back cinch hanging a couple inches loose. I tighten it when I saddle but it loosens. As long as it's not hanging down so low that the horse can get it's foot caught in it I think it's fine. When I stop for a rest, I usully tighten the saddle.

I understand about a branch being able to ge lodged in it. I've also heard of a stick getting poked through a horse's chest and their side. So not sure if that was because of the tack or saddle or not.

All I know is I've been riding with a back cinch all my life and so far I've not had anything get caught up in it.

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I do ride with a breast collar, wouldn't go without it.

I know of 4 instances where a horse stepped on a stick and flipped it up and got stabbed in the groin severing the main artery. In 2 of those cases the horse bled to death on the trail. Improper tack was not a factor in any of those cases. But I keep my eye on those branches laying on the trail and try to steer my horse accordingly.

Ok I understand those with a need for a rear cinch, IF it's installed correctly.

I learn so much on this forum!

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I've been to a few saddle clinics and all were pretty consistent about the rear cinch deal.

If you have a properly built saddle, you have your front cinch. This is what most people rely on. So, visualize this: you have a cinch that tightens a saddle and pulls down in the front. Alot of the pressure of the saddle teeter totters toward the front of the saddle onto the shoulders. The true purpose of the rear cinch is to definitely help keep the saddle in place during trail riding. It helps to minimize movement forward on down slopes. But more importantly, it helps to balance the saddle on the horses back so the pressue is evenly distributed throughout the tree.

We tighten our flank straps almost as tight as our front cinches because of what we've learned in the clinics. Saddles with center fire rigging don't need this. But look at how the center fire hook up are located on the actual tree.

I can ride some pretty serious stuff without a breast collar or crupper and my saddle stays in place. I do ride with a collar and usually a crupper, only because I want to have back up for the really long ups and downs or the really steep ups and downs. (By steep, I mean butt sliding type of steep)

I think the bottom line is how long you ride for. If your riding for a few hours on mild trails, chances are your fine with the front cinch only. If you really do hit the trails hard by riding extreme terrain and lots of miles,you want to make sure your horse is as save and comfortable as possible.

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I suppose if one is trail riding in a roping saddle, then a rear cinch might be a good idea, although if the saddle fit the horse well, it shouldn't flip up in back. I've been under the impression (for years) that a rear cinch is to keep a saddle from pulling up in back if one has another animal dallied to the horn.

I ride an endurance saddle, which is made to be comfortable for horse and rider for 100 miles of riding at a time. My saddle doesn't even have a place to put a rear cinch. It's rigged just forward of center fire, and is adjustable from 3/4 to center fire. A horse climbing up and down hills will be more comfortable with the cinch back from the elbows. My cinch is about a hand's width away from my horse's elbows. I've ponied many times with this saddle with no problem, but then I suppose it could slip if I had to dally hard and fast (although I'm more inclined to find other ways to "encourage" a balky pack animal).

One might not need back cinches, 7/8 rigs, or tight cinches if one chose a trail horse wisely. I always look for a horse with a back built for trails: prominent withers, but not too high; level back, not downhill, which causes the saddle to jam against the withers or slip up onto the neck; slopey shoulders, not bunchy or rounded--for the trails, I'll take a narrow built horse over a roly poly one any day.

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well let me see... I have ridden western and from experience no matter how well my westerns have fit a rear cinch was just that much more secure.. BUT as i no longer can ride westerns, (the stirrup fenders just are too stiff for my sore knees) I ride an Aussie, and I also ride a Colorado natural ride bareback saddle.. it is not meant for a crupper but i made it so i could use one and also attach saddle bags.. it weighs about 6.5lbs and has no rear cinch, my Aussie saddle is a very early 1930's Aussie and has no rear cinch on it..but if i could i would add one just cause it does seem to rock forward on steep terrain.. though the crupper does help with that..

I found in my breaking and training of young colts, that a rear cinch really made the difference, if i was riding a rank one that would occasionally try my balance that having the rear cinch made a difference wether i stayed in the saddle or not.. hardly ever come off, but well that extra balance control in the saddle really did help.

I also found that with a greeny a rear cinch was awesome for sudden stops.. it kept the saddle from ejecting me off... I have always had very nicely fitted saddles.. even when breaking 20 youngsters that month i made sure the saddle fit properly.(had 12 saaddles to make sure one would fit.. a sore start in training makes for a poorly broke horse) even then the rear cinch was a help.. had a racing bred colt that would run out on the track fine for a few rounds, then all the sudden he would literally lock the breaks and if the saddle didn't have the rear cinch, off i would go over his head.. (only happened once, and i felt the saddle toss me..not the horse) so since then i ride with a rear cinch on any western saddle i ride with.. as the simple thing i don't like the sudden stops and suddenly ejection seat affect of the saddle..

this said i have always kept the rear cinch up against the belly of the horse just snug enough that even after a few hours work it don't dangle but loose enough not to be a bother to the horse..( a rear cinch keeper is a must unless your wanting a buck-a-thon when it turns into a flank rope) i learned that a looser rear cinch just irritates or tickles most horses and they don't like them.. then we get the owner who says you can put a rear cinch on that horse he'll toss your arse in the trees.. but snug it up so it don't bother them and i never had a problem.. one of my friends keeps telling me i make her a liar when it comes to her animals.. but that is another story.. but goes the same for cruppers, loose only irritates the horse snug is comfy and feels like a second skin so it ignored.. go figure..

it is all a matter of purpose and opinions..

for my purposes for breaking colts and good hard effort terrains you can guarantee IF i am riding a western saddle it will have a rear cinch one way or another.. BUT if i am just trying out the saddle or testing a friends horse, and there isn't one, well what can ya do.. I personally prefer one..

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It comes down to what you're riding in. How good of a fit does your saddle have? I used to ride with a loose rear cinch (not dangerous loose) and now because of what I've learned I ride with it tight. I have a custom saddle that fits great. Definitely two must NOTS: 1) if you wear a rear cinch make sure it's connected to the front cinch with a safe distance 2) Never leave it so loose a horse can gether their leg stuck or something else stuck in it.

Each horse is different and each person rides differently. There is much more than this board for this answer. I suggest you do some research into different saddle makers opinions.

And (please don't get me wrong Horsing) there is alot more to the type of back the horse has when choosing either a trail horse or deciding if to wear a rear cinch. For trail, I'll take a well built horse wiith strong legs, good feet, good health and a sound mind. I have no problems with my roly poly when it comes to saddle moving.

Check into it. I'd be interested to hear your opinion after researching it.

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Guest cowpony01

I was gonna stay out of this one cause some folks take what I have to say wrong but here it goes.......

Here, here! CTA put it very well! I'll take a well built, stong and good minded horse any day. Rolly polly don't necessarily mean fat. If you look at Josie you may say she is rolly polly, OK, well bounce a quarter off of her and you'll see that sucker fly in the air, and it ain't from fat, it's all muscle baby! [Jump] and I know for a fact you can do the same thing to Schnapps, he's all muscle too baby~! [Jump] (Just sticking up for big bodied horses that I know of.

It all depends on the type of riding, horse, saddle your gonna do. (After all god made all creatures great and small different and if we were all the same it'd be a boring world.) You don't have to ride in a roping saddle to say you need a rear cinch, and you sure don't need to dallie to something to use one either ( I don't think I would dally to a pack animal, that's for calves, dallying with a pack animal could get dangerous, let the unrully S** go.). I come from both sides, ranching and mountain riding, so I use one, It helps me. I use one and if you see where I ride that's the reason why I need one. But it all comes down to your horse, your saddle, preferrence and where you ride.......

Edited by cowpony01

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I generally stay ouf of the discussion too, but had wondered in the course of this one why no one has mentioned the rigging of the saddles themselves. Full double, 7/8, 3/4 or center fire. Can make something of a difference as to whether or not you want to or should use a rear cinch. With a full double, it is generally best to use a rear cinch no matter what type of riding you are doing simply because of saddle stability. A 7/8 double is going to provide greater versatility and depending on personal preference, terrain, riding activity and horse, may be used without a back cinch. 3/4 may easily be used without the back cinch and a center fire rigging, of course, doesn't have one. The important thing, to me, is if you are going to use one, make sure it is set up right and used in the way for which it was intended. Just as you should check the front cinch periodically for tightness, so should the rear cinch be checked. The way I look at it is, if the saddle is rigged for a back cinch, why not use it, unless there is some compelling reason not to. It will always provide a more stable seat in a western saddle. However, it does come down to personal preference, mo matter what. All of my saddles are either full or 7/8 and I will not ride without a rear cinch.

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And (please don't get me wrong Horsing) there is alot more to the type of back the horse has when choosing either a trail horse or deciding if to wear a rear cinch. For trail, I'll take a well built horse wiith strong legs, good feet, good health and a sound mind. I have no problems with my roly poly when it comes to saddle moving.

Of course there are other important considerations when choosing a trail horse--but we were discussing saddle fit, rigging and cinches, so I pointed out what I considered to be one important factor--a horse's back.

Most people ignore this part of the conformation, as evidenced by their endless search for a saddle that won't sore their horse. Trail horses aside, many people have ended up under their horses after the saddle slipped over their horse's non-existence withers. I've ridden trails on horses with great withers and horses with not so great withers, and I've noticed that I don't have to cinch as tight on the horses with good withers. (Rode many a mule that I'd have to shove my foot down in a stirrup now and then to keep the saddle in the middle...)

As for the article, it was interesting and informative--with regard to 7/8 or full/double rigged saddles. That said, as of this date, I've not been "ejected" from a saddle that lifted up in back, but I take care to find saddles that fit my horses well so they don't lift up in back. I once had a saddle that lifted up in back, so I sold it. I figured it didn't fit--hadn't considered I might need to crank it down with the back cinch. Instead, I bought a saddle that fit and didn't lift up in back. It was for a very broad QH, who had very nice withers, and it ended up his saddle was a 7/8s and had a flank cinch.

I suppose I'm just used to thinking of trail saddles (and trail horses) in terms of endurance riding, and not ranch work.

I guess everything to do with horses boils down to this: If it works for you, great.

There is more than one way to "skin a cat."

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Definitely two must NOTS: 1) if you wear a rear cinch make sure it's connected to the front cinch with a safe distance

K quick question as im a lil confuzed with some of the wording. Are you agreeing that the connector between the cinchs is good? or bad?

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Here's another vote for the rear cinch and putting it on nearly as tight as the front cinch!

I also vote for the wide load horses on the trail over the narrow built horses. Trail riding on steep terrain is much safer on a built horse. The TB type horses with the long lean build usually don't have the strength in the hip muscles should they get into a steep up hill situation.

A horse with a big muscular butt has the strength to power his and his riders wieght up steep hills better.

I was riding with some friends and a guys horse (the horse was missing a few bolts in the brains department anyway!) started freaking out on a really steep side hill. She was a dancing and a prancing and danced her back end down off the trail. She was a QH with a long lean TB build. Once her back end went off the trail you could see in her face she had no strength in the back end to keep hers and her riders weight up. She sat down on her hanches, my friend stepped off and over backwards she rolled. Luckily for her she got stuck in a rotten log and up against a tree. Or she might have rolled to the bottom of the canyon and not survived. We had a couple guys with us on mules. We tied a bunch of ropes together and one of the mules hauled her out of there. She had no strength in her hind legs to stand up again on that steep slope. The mule had to drag her back to the trail before she could stand up again. She even made the mule work so hard he had his front legs lifted off the trail for a while. But he took one look at her down the hill and said no way am I going to join her and kept on moving forward with just his hind legs on the ground. Even managed to break his breaching in the struggle.

After we had the QH built like a TB pulled back up on the trail, the mule rider infromed us that he had a .45 in his sadddle bags and we could have just took care of the crazy mare down the hill... We all got a good laugh out of that and other than a few scratches the mare was OK. She seemed to behave better the rest of the ride knowing the mule skinner had a .45 with him and wasn't afraid to use it.

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Guest cowpony01

Ugh!!!!! [Duh] I despise horses like that, and one major reason why I'm by myself in the mountains.....But, I got a good laugh for this morning from the end of the story. When we eventually meet up we will get along just perfect, just like CTA and I do!

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We always ride with a back cinch, no matter what we're doing. I think it's good to have a horse who is used to one anyway, because you never know what may happen.

I've always been taught a back cinch is a must in roping but I can see where it's beneficial on trails too. A gal that was training our 3 year old this year tried her "good" saddle on him and every time he took a step, even WITH the back cinch, the back end of the saddle popped up and down. Jake is VERY sensitive and did NOT appreciate that saddle. Obviously, it didn't fit him correctly and he promptly bucked to let her know it was not comfortable.

I ride him in a roping saddle, on trails, in arenas, after cows, whatever. I ride with the cinch snug as well as will be moving to a breast collar next year with him as he's getting wider and wider and would benefit from a breast collar.

Obviously, I also like a wide bodied horse ... this is my "baby" this summer:

091208Jake01.jpg

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Oh wow Andi that horse is gorgeous--what muscling!

I never rode with a rear cinch until I bought my own saddle bc the saddle I rode in before (one of my neighbor's) was a cheapy with no place for one. Go fig. Now that I know how much more secure they make my saddle I won't ride without one. That said I wouldn't ride without a connector strap or with one dangling. A dude I see alot on the trails lets his dangle about 6 INCHES below his horse's belly. Not only is it useless, it is very dangerous bc his horse is pretty short and could easily catch his leg or something else in it. Never any use saying anything to him since usually by the time I see him he's more than halfway drunk. [bang Head] Argh.

Something else I won't ride without is a breastcollar. We recently made a trip to the mountains of GA and the most invaluable piece of tack on our horses was our breastcollars. I managed to talk my group into riding with them (last minute with one guy) and they saved our tushes.

If the rear cinch is looser than what you can comfortably fit a fist into it is serving no purpose unless your horse throws an absolute fit. IMHO

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Oh wow Andi that horse is gorgeous--what muscling!

Thanks! He'd actually lost a little of his muscling in that photo because he hadn't been ridden as much as previously. This is a picture of him right after I brought him home from training; this was about July, I think:

072308Jake09.jpg

And, just for grins, here's my fat butt on Jake, trying out my husband's saddle on him, which seems to fit him much better:

072308Jake07.jpg

I think he looks pretty good for a 3 year old colt! And I love the fact he's a home grown baby -- we own both his dam and his sire. I think they did a nice job putting him together!

I'm going to have a neighbor ranch girl (well, she's 20-something) take him, hopefully, for a month next spring to get him legged up, working on the ranch. Then we will hit the trails and are planning a bunch of rides, especially one in late summer, up on the Steens Mountains, near where I live, to ride amongst the wild herds. That should be ... interesting!

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Hey AB, was reading these things and yes, you definitely want the front and back cinch connected. That is unless you're going to play a cruel joke on someone and want to see how long they can stay on when the horse starts a buck a roo rest. The strap between the front cinch and rear cinch keeps the rear cinch from sliding back towards the horses privates. If slippage occurs the rear cinch will take on a new name, called the buck strap. You can easily view the fast moving effects of the buck strap in most bucking horse videos.

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I also vote for the wide load horses on the trail over the narrow built horses. Trail riding on steep terrain is much safer on a built horse. The TB type horses with the long lean build usually don't have the strength in the hip muscles should they get into a steep up hill situation.

A horse with a big muscular butt has the strength to power his and his riders wieght up steep hills better.

I was riding with some friends and a guys horse (the horse was missing a few bolts in the brains department anyway!) started freaking out on a really steep side hill. She was a dancing and a prancing and danced her back end down off the trail. She was a QH with a long lean TB build. Once her back end went off the trail you could see in her face she had no strength in the back end to keep hers and her riders weight up. She sat down on her hanches, my friend stepped off and over backwards she rolled. Luckily for her she got stuck in a rotten log and up against a tree. Or she might have rolled to the bottom of the canyon and not survived. We had a couple guys with us on mules. We tied a bunch of ropes together and one of the mules hauled her out of there. She had no strength in her hind legs to stand up again on that steep slope. The mule had to drag her back to the trail before she could stand up again. She even made the mule work so hard he had his front legs lifted off the trail for a while. But he took one look at her down the hill and said no way am I going to join her and kept on moving forward with just his hind legs on the ground. Even managed to break his breaching in the struggle.

Well, JK, it sounds like the Missing Bolts Horse was probably out of condition. But even wide load horses need to be in shape to haul a rider up a steep hill.

At endurance races, one will see horses built on the small side--certainly not wide loads--going nimbly up and down the mountains for 50 miles carrying their riders with ease. It's all in the conditioning. I can see the advantage of having a big horse if one were moving stock--or if one had to pull their goofy friend's out of shape horses out of ravines on a regular basis, then I suppose it would be a good idea to have a big horse or mule to do that. But for my purposes, having a lean horse makes more sense--they require less feed on a pack trip, and tend to not tie up as easy. I'm not a big person, so I don't need to have a big horse; perhaps I'd feel differently if I were.

I've ridden all kinds of horses--stocky ones, lithe ones, big ones, little ones--if they're sensible and sound, they're a good trail horse. I prefer the smaller ones--I can get under the tree branches easier.

As with anything to do with horses--whatever works for you is good.

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Horsing, I really don't want this to turn into a debate or switch the subject. But I also don't want to cause confusion or see statements with condesending undertones. I don't think you intend to make it sound like your style of horse is the only style to ride for true trail riding. These past emails appear to imply that.

I can see the advantage of having a big horse if one were moving stock--or if one had to pull their goofy friend's out of shape horses out of ravines on a regular basis, then I suppose it would be a good idea to have a big horse or mule to do that. But for my purposes, having a lean horse makes more sense--they require less feed on a pack trip, and tend to not tie up as easy. I'm not a big person, so I don't need to have a big horse; perhaps I'd feel differently if I were.

Everyone chooses whats best for them and if they ride a different build it doesn't mean they can't ride like you. I ride a Haflinger. I ride with friends who have very barrely horses. I don't do ranch work. I trail ride and those who know me know how hard I ride. So, yes, most commonly you see smaller built Arab types for endurance type of riding. That is a specific sport geared toward speed and agility. Difficult terrain and long distances without a clocked time to finish can be done by many different breeds.

The key is for people looking to safely ride on the trail to : make sure they have a properly fitting saddle (and all other equipment for that matter), that fits their build of horse regardless of what that may be; have the appropriate gear to minimize the saddle movement. If you really are going to be riding out on the trails, its best to do the research and see what is recommended for your preference of trail riding. And whatever your breed is, whether it's Percheron ( and I know a huge one that rides some crazy trails, out distances most of her QH pals, out walks them and eats less too) or a pony, make sure they are mentally and physically in shape to meet your goals.

Obviously, if an hour or so out on flat or mild rolling hills is what meets your fancy, there is alot more flexibility in the gear you choose to use. If 5 hours on narrow, steep terrain (on a draft pony, with a poor tired husband who didn't choose that route) is what your goal is, it's much more important to get the equipment to make you and your horse safe and comfortable.

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