Tack and Equipment of Yesteryear

I was scrolling through a facebook group the other day when I came across a lady who clearly must have opened a time capsule from 20 years ago. She was selling an overgirth, a top hat, and a brass clincher browband. Ah, instant memories.

Image result for 1999 cross country rolex

I was raised in the h/j world but made a brief foray into eventing when I moved to the east coast after high school to be a working student. That was… a very long time ago… 2001. While I only stayed in eventing for a few years at that point, I do remember buying all the things I just HAD to have to fit in. Like all those Polypads. Thick like a comforter, utilitarian, and sometimes even reversible. They still sell them, but I don’t even remember the last time I saw one in use. These seemed to go by the wayside when half pads got more popular (and custom fit saddles) but I have to admit, there’s still something about that “look at me, I’m riding on top of a literal pillow” look that I’m a little nostalgic for.

Image result for polypad horse

I also just HAD to have a navy overgirth (I’m not sure why, I was running Novice) because it was just SO COOL. And because back then I was head to toe navy and black. Yeah literally, my colors were navy and black. I’ve always been boring. That overgirth was badass though.

Image result for overgirth

I think I used it a grand total of twice.

I distinctly remember though that the Saratoga wraps and porters were a right of passage that didn’t happen until the upper levels. Until then you went around in Woof boots, preferably with lots of colored tape. We’ve certainly come a long way in boot technology over the years.

Image result for porter boots saratoga wraps
I am cringing at this right now.

I hit the eventing scene on the tail end of the petal bell boot craze, but I DO still remember the very distinct clackity-clackity-clack, and all the awesome color possibilities. I wanted some but never actually bought any. Remember how they buckled on? It was so clumsy.

Image result for petal bell boots
You can practically hear them clacking in this picture.

I definitely had clincher browbands though, both brass and nickel. I’m relatively certain you weren’t allowed to participate without one. I have this framed photo in my office at work, pretty sure it’s circa 2002 or 2003. Clincher browband, poly pad, hunt cap, that awful pinney, a brown Kieffer dressage saddle that was literally like riding a slippery pancake… it is painfully retro.

why were the coats so FRUMPY?

Of course, having come from and then gone back to the hunter/jumper world, I remember a lot of their fashions from those day too. Like those plastic Ulster boots with the metal clinch tab closures. Those were THE JAM. I absolutely loved them.

Image result for ulster boots

I’m also pretty sure that every horse in the planet either went in a square pad with a fleece fitted pad over top of it, or a Beval pad (the HUGE, massively thick felt and sheepskin ones with the wither cutout- it’s on Jez in my retro dressage photo) on top of a square pad. I still see McLain in a square pad/fitted pad combo and it always teleports me right back to the 90’s every time.

Image result for mclain ward
you do you, McLain, clearly it’s working.

I also remember when white rubber reins were the big trend. I LOVED them. Not really sure why, they turned dingy and yellow pretty quickly. And those big thick fleece girth covers that never effing stayed where they were supposed to, thus it became a constant game of keeping that thing in place while you tightened the girth. If you were real fancy you sprung for a full sheepskin one instead of fleece. I also remember when ALL of the fly bonnets had tassels and throatlatch strings. Which kinda matched the fringe on your custom Journeyman full chaps, which we wore over jeans even in the dead of summer. Why TF did we do that?

You can’t really see them in this pic but they were black with navy and silver accents and black/silver fringe. They were glorious.

I sometimes find myself wondering which things we use now that we’re going to look back on in 20 years and think were so primitive or ridiculous. All of it, probably.

What are some of your favorite memories of the tack/apparel/equipment trends of yesteryear? Are there any items that take you right back to your roots, or any of it that you still own? What about stuff that you wish would make a comeback? I’m kinda still on the Polypad train…


44 thoughts on “Tack and Equipment of Yesteryear

  1. Oh my gosh this is all bringing me back to my childhood. One of the women in the barn actually still uses her big pillow pad!!

    My personal favorite was the half-pad-with-no-other-pad thing going around in the early 2000s. Never had any AP or baby pads on my horse in high school, it was just the half pad all the time.


    1. I wish the just a half pad thing were still cool in the hunter ring. I still haven’t found a hunter pad my horse doesn’t hate, but he loves his half pad.


  2. Love the pillow pad! lol I really wanted a navy/hunter green reversible one!

    I mostly ride western, so the colors/trends from days of yore are scary, so they can stay gone! Cowboy hats in the western performance world now are really crisp and shaped vs more flat in the old days. You see people on FB, etc trying to sell mustard yellow sparkly suits and floppy cowboy hats all the time. And custom dyed chaps and boots that probably cost a fortune and now are just in their basements. haha


  3. I had a brass clincher browband bridle with brass buckles and keepers. I might still have it, and it was glorious. Also definitely still have a pair of white rubber reins in use, and I’m sorry but I still love WOOF boots. I’m confused how the Arabian barn I basically got sent away from used the same pad fashion as McLain Ward but I definitely attended many shows in the white bonnet with tassels white fleece girth white pad uniform once I found an eventing barn. I’m jealous that you’ve got a talent for being fashionable and delightfully match… I don’t think I will ever master looking put together and not as sketchy as my riding tends to be…


  4. i had fringed schooling chaps I wore over jeans or shorts or whatever. Once classy always classy (not me) Ha.

    Also I never bought boots or bellboots but remember being in awe on those that had them.

    I actually miss my chaps they were so nice and made my leg so tight. Maybe why my leg is so loose today 🙂 HA HA

    thanks for the blast from the past

    I remember showing with the minimalist look a few times re pads!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Am I the only one who still wants a pair of full Journeyman chaps? I never got to have a pair like all of the cool girls I rode with in high school and I’m admittedly still longing for them…


      1. Same on the jeans. I just keep having daydreams or putting chaps over leggings or running tights on chilly days or for trail rides. Comfy and stick your butt to the saddle lol.


  6. I grew up in AQHA so did western and English. I will NEVER miss the Rockies jeans. Never. Ever. I hate high waisted stuff so I was pretty ecstatic when the low-rise trend started (well, except for the so low you can see the thong look, that was bad). The one sad thing about the low-rise breech trend is how AWFUL it looks now when the hunters show in a shadbelly with their shirt pooching out between the bottom of the points and the top of their breeches. I don’t care how thin you are, that looks terrible. Get some high rise breeches for the formal classes and copy Liza Boyd, people!


  7. I still have my brown suede chaps, no fringe though! I was jealous of the girls at my barn that had the fringed ones. I also had my black riding tights with the purple stripe down the side that paired so well with the teal Lycra helmet cover with the black ribbon bow on the front). I still have my mare’s hunter green fringed fly bonnet folded up in my tack box.


  8. I did a blog post awhile back about ulster boots actually, because I wanted a pair so so so so so bad and I found one for $5 on ebay and i totally bought them and it made 14 year old me sooooo happy.

    I still want a poly pad. I loved them. They never moved even tho they didn’t have straps!!! And I’m lol-ing at you using an overgirth at novice. So srs. such event.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I had the girth cover for pony club and it definitely kept my girth cleaner, which for teenage me, was a plus. I was also raised by my mentor to use a baby pad UNDER the bigger AP pad. The baby pad got washed every time and the top was just allowed to dry. Also tassels and throatlatch fly bonnets. Honestly, I’d still go for a throatlatch string because I can’t get the minimalist ones to stay on my mare’s head.


  10. White rubber reins, checking in. Still have ’em on my figure 8 bridle, still love them. I cleaned them pretty carefully when they got dingy so they still look pretty good.

    Someone at my barn asked me to embroider a Polypad the other day and noooooope that was not happening. I had forgotten how poofy they were until she gave it to me.


      1. Ahh I missed the memo that clincher brow bands are out! I still have a havana with silver one on my jump bridle-whoops! Gotta say-I still like it.


  11. True story: I still have those plastic boots with the clinchers, and Rio even showed in them in the 2000’s on particularly muddy days. Mine were black though.
    I saw that lady posting yesterday (I’m assuming it’s the same one). She had the 90’s style show shirts and some full chaps that I saw. Such nostalgia! I miss my journeman’s. I have them still at my mom’s, but not sure I could get in there…


  12. Ulster boots were basically the only thing that drained water Back In the Day (I evented before Woof boots existed), and yeah I had those petal bells in green and black. Actually I think I still have those somewhere… #totallyretro


  13. Oh holy cow, the memories. This was right about the time that I fell in love with eventing, but as a spectator- I was a foxhunter who thought competing in the XC was SO FREAKING COOL. Like T, I still like the clincher browbands! But thank goodness those Petal boots are gone- may they burn in hell.


  14. Hunter green polyester show coats. I don’t want them back but they take me back. I have seen green coats around in the last year or so though. Also the suede leather half chaps with the 3 Velcro tabs and the Velcro cinch at the top. Damn I wanted those stupid petal bell boots so bad.


  15. Ugh the white fleece girth covers are back in the Hunter ring and I am like Whyyyyyyyy? There are so many better options and they are so ugly and so distracting. :/


  16. I had the Navajo pads, the Hampa open fronts, full chaps (no fringe though), the white rubber reins…. still have them all taking up space in tack boxes in the garage. Except the chaps – they get worn in the winter. They kinda shrank over the years though.
    I had a love/hate thing for the petal overreach boots. I kinda wanted them, but then the sound of someone riding up behind me with them would drive me nuts. So I never got them.


  17. Sheepishly raising my hand to say I still use my poly pads and clincher browbands… don’t know if that makes me cool or totally outdated.


  18. This is like all of my stuff at my house that I cleaned out of storage. I can’t fit in my chaps, I am pretty sure if I put Anchor’s petal bell boots on Eli, Eli would spook at the noise, and oh yeah remember how if you had the white rubber reins you had to match them with white bit guards. Classy.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My dressage bridle still has a brass clincher browband on it (but I do bring out the crystals for shows). I have a pair of petal boots tucked safely away in my trunk (for emergencies, just in case I need them, right??). And remember when jointed stirrups were all the rage? Yep, still ride in a pair of those too. And leather galloping boots with the 6 buckles per boots. Alas, I never had a pair, but I always thought they were SO COOL. They are making poly pads again now for monoflaps. It’s come full circle, go figure.


  20. I had black full chaps back in 1995? I loved them. This post has inspired me to pick up a pair in the fall for winter time. Sweatpants & Full chaps – I would have never thought to combine the two. Must explore my options before winter returns..
    I joined pony club at 19 for one year. I did D Rally and was offered the use of a vest before running the cross-country portion. “VEST? What do I need that for!?” Now much older, wiser me realizes how crazy that was, but those were the days..


  21. I’m late to the party here, but there are two things that I remember from eventing in the 1990’s that I constantly wonder about and why they went out of style, since to me they still seem to make a lot of sense. One is putting a martingale stop around the top end of your whip for xc (so that it can’t accidentally fall out of your hand – I still do this but I think I’m the only one), and the other is putting in a single braid right behind the bridle path with a little bit of shoelace or some other tie around the crownpiece and then braided in, so that when you have a hands-past-the-ears stop or fall you don’t accidentally unbridle your horse (which seems to happen even more easily these days when you have a bonnet on). When did these go out of style, and why? I took a big 10+ year break from riding from about 2000 to 2012 or so, and when I came back so much had changed!


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