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Easy Access Saddle Storage While Riding

I've written before about the advantages of carrying important items on trail rides, especially the longer rides. But there is some gear that's nice to be able to access DURING THE RIDE. Such items include a map and your canteen. But storage that's easy AND SAFE to access from the saddle is limited.

I'm sure we all agree it's a good idea to be "in the moment" when riding. That means paying attention to your horse and what's going on around you. So anything you're going to focus on opening and retrieving is going to somewhat break that focus. The easier and faster you can get what you need, the safer you'll be. And, of course, we'll only do so at walk or while stopped — that's dangerous enough to be fiddling with something.

Unfortunately, that means saddlebags are not the best for this purpose because you'll be forced to look behind one of your legs to open the bag and grasp the item. Plus, I'm not happy with any saddlebags I've bought or seen because they flap against your horse's sides when you canter or gallop — I want it secure and stable — not flapping. So, I'm still looking for a way to solve that problem or find a manufacturer that has.

A cantle bag is much better secured and I always ride with mine. But it's an even worse place to put any item you want to access from the saddle. It's completely behind you and an even more dangerous place to be trying to open and search while on a horse. If your horse spooks while you're twisted around like that, there's a good chance you could fall or sprain something from the fast jerking movement your horse will likely make.

So where does that leave us? It means we need to store such items in front of us. I've found a pommel bag that works well, but it's too small to hold very many or even one larger item — I'm still looking for a better one. But I have solved the canteen problem.

I placed a footmans loop on the front-center of my saddle's pommel and hung a canteen sheath from there. This sheath holds a one-quart, plastic, G.I. canteen and is made by Richland Yellowstone Mfg. in Sidney Montana (you can find their products at most tack dealers). The canteen sheath strap clips onto this loop and I secure the bottom D-ring of the sheath to the saddles cinch ring (see photo).

Canteen Secured - Top Canteen Secured - Bottom
Top of sheath afixed to footmans loop. Bottom of sheath secured to cinch ring.

This keeps the canteen right where I can easily grab it for a swig of water and prevents it from flapping at any speed. And by changing to a longer footmans loop, I can put a second canteen on the other side to carry a full half-gallon of water for longer rides.

Besides being an avid trail rider, Jerry Tardif is a technology consultant and a horse and nature photographer in SE Connecticut — see his work at: www.jerrytardif.com. He is also co-founder and President of QueryHorse.

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