Monday, August 24, 2015

Good Belts and a Lesson Learned

It has been said that I am a bit obsessed with good belts. Well, I come by it honestly.

While I was still in the single digits I went through a growth spurt. I didn’t particularly give a flip one way or another. The high waters were just as good on the playground as clothes that fit.

But adults worry about funny things.

So a strategy was born. The way we shopped completely changed. The decision was made that all my jeans would be purchased one size too big.

You may have noticed the artists’ renderings of adorable children who look absolutely nothing like me. The real pictures are in an impenetrable vault under armed guard. The blackmail payments are killing me.

Now, you can't climb a tree with your pants falling down. Jeans sliding off the back side are not conducive to jungle gym activities. There was more than one conk on the noggin.
So, back to the store we went.

 It was my very first real belt. Just like a grownup's. People on T.V. wore belts. People in magazines wore belts. There may have been a bit of salesmanship required, to keep my feet from dragging all the way to the store.

            Next day there was a proud elementary school kid wearing a brand spanking new belt on the playground. Then, there was another unfortunate incident.

 Turns out, a belt working that hard needs to have a bit of 'oomph' to it. The cheap discount store belt broke... at a critical moment.

There were consequences.

Some may continue to call it obsession. I call it lesson learned. Quality matters, in belts as in life. Sending your kids off with substandard equipment can have long term side effects.

Like I said, those blackmail payments are killing me. 

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

Monday, August 17, 2015

August, Cowboy Boots, and a Last Farewell

     This last stretch of summer is often the sweetest. With all the back to school shopping, immediacy develops. We yearn for one more lazy evening just sitting on the porch or one more weekend get together. Every event in August is just a little bit more poignant, because we can feel the summer slipping softly through our fingers.

     One last late summer get together has cropped up here at South Texas Tack. It will be a bitter sweet gathering. A celebration of twenty two years spent together and the sorrow of knowing that the twenty third year will never come.

     A boot has died.

     I tried to organize a memorial, but she wouldn’t have it. “I can still wear these around the house. They’ll be my summer shoes. I just have to remember to keep this foot out of the water.”  

     Denial is such a difficult part of the grief process.

     Boots become a part of us. With proper care they can last for years. They become old friends.

     Families often pass good kids boots around. The eldest gets a new pair. Then a cousin will wear them for a while. Then they go to the next sibling. Back and forth they get passed as the children grow, becoming a part of the family. The kids learn proper leather care and it becomes part of the rhythm of life.

     One tip: The leather can dry out in shipping, so clean and condition your boots before your kids run out the front door in them. Actually, this applies to all boots. A little prevention will extend the life of your boots and a long boot life is what we all want.

     But all things have their season. 

     My friend, whose boot has died, is still in the early stages of her grief. Brown socks are on her shopping list, but she has agreed to let us go forward with a small gathering.  It’ll just be a few friends, some food, and libations. The kids will run around till they wear themselves out.

     A little bit more fun than a boot memorial should be, but a late summer day well spent.

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Back to school, Belts, and Bureaucracy
The back to school tax holidays have rolled around again. Every state that participates has its own schedule and its own rules. Here in Texas we don't pay sales tax on clothing, backpacks, and school supplies as long as each item is less than $100. 
At least those are the rules for this year. It's always subject to change.

Which is how I found myself on the official state comptroller website. Better safe than sorry.

Belts with buckles are tax exempt as long as they fall under the afore mentioned price ceiling. Buckles without belts are to be taxed. However, belts without buckles are never mentioned.

So, is a belt without a buckle still a belt? Is it a strap? Is it an accessory? Is it clothing? Is it tax exempt?

Is it something I have now thought entirely too deeply on? Going around asking people didn’t help. I got some pretty peculiar looks.
My research didn’t go much better. If there is a fancy name for belts without buckles I didn’t find it.

Next, I called up to Austin. I have to say, I expected the comptrollers office to laugh at me. By this point I was chuckling hardily at myself. Instead, I seem to have sparked quite the little water cooler debate.

What is a belt without a buckle? Hmmm. Sounds almost like one of those riddles. If a tree falls in the woods….

The down side to all this, is that I can no longer indulge in those jokes about bureaucrats. The good people at the comptrollers office took my simple, silly little question and ran with it. It went up the chain of command and came back with an answer.

Belts without buckles are…. (drum roll please)…. belts. At least for tax purposes this year in the great state of Texas. Which means at South Texas Tack you can get a belt without a buckle tax free. As long as it meets all other official state guidelines. 

Um, but just in case, void where prohibited.  

 L.H. is a cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Horse Care Tips

The long, hot days of summer are ideal for long rides and adventures. Unfortunately, hot weather can be very dangerous for your horse if you don’t take the proper precautions. If you’ll be riding, working or competing with a horse in hot weather, it’s essential that you follow some basic summertime care tips to keep your horse healthy and happy.

Hydration is essential.

There are few things more important than a plentiful supply of fresh, clean water in the summertime. Most horses drink more than 10 gallons of water per day and many average-sized workhorses consume more than 25 gallons per day during 70+ degree weather.

If you are concerned about dehydration, you can perform a “pinch test” on your horse. Simply pinch the skin and let go. If the skin remains pinched, the horse is dehydrated.

Supplement with salt.

A horse loses salt through sweating, but this vital nutrient can be replenished by ensuring that your horse has access to a salt lick or by adding electrolyte supplements to water or feed.

Prevent sunburns.

Red, peeling skin is uncomfortable and painful for horses. Sunburn-related sores can become infected and require professional treatment. Although all horses can burn, those with white markings are especially at risk.

Prevent painful burns by using a shampoo that contains sunscreen, such as Vetrolin Bath or by using a spray-on sunscreen like Sunflower Sunscreen.

Stay Cool.

If your horse is kept inside during the day, ensure that there is adequate ventilation in her stall. Installing a fan will help keep her cool and reduce the number of flies and mosquitoes in the area, helping your horse be even more comfortable.

Remember that riding in hot weather can be very dangerous because horses can become overheated. If possible, choose to ride in the early morning or late evening to avoid the dangerous heat of midday.

Prevent Insects

Pesky flies, mosquitoes and insects can annoy and endanger your horse. These bugs thrive in the summer by breeding in pools of stagnant water. Ensure that all buckets, troughs and other sources of water are regularly cleaned to avoid breeding. You may also want to use fly control products to further protect your horse. Don’t forget that mosquitos carry a number of dangerous diseases, so keeping them away means keeping your horse healthy.

What are your top tips for caring for your horse during the warmer months? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summer Riding Essentials

Our favorite time of the year to go horseback riding is finally here. Summer’s long days, gorgeous weather and extra free time make it the perfect season to go for a ride with a trusted horse. If you’re planning to hit the trails with your horse this summer, make sure you have these essential clothing items, safety equipment and horse care products to keep you and your horse happy, healthy and comfortable all season long.

  1. Fly spray — If you’ve had a horse long, you know what a pain flies can be, especially during the summer when the flies get more active. Be sure to stock up on you preferred fly spray early in the season. One of our favorite fly sprays right now is UltraShield EX, which is weatherproof, sweat-resistant and lasts for 17 days, making it perfect for summer.
  2. Horse ice boots — There’s nothing like summer to tempt us into longer and longer rides, and let’s be honest: Multi-hour rides leave a rider sore. However, think about how sore your horse must be as well. A good pair of horse ice boots can help your horse recover faster from those long rides by easing his sore legs. Regular icing can help prevent overuse injuries that horses are prone to during the summer months.
  3. Boots and socks — Obviously, boots are necessary year-round, but summer is a good time to check to see if your boots are in good condition and if they still provide a comfortable fit. Additionally, make sure you have a good pair of boot socks to protect your boots from sweat. You’re bound to sweat during the summer, and the last thing you want is to ruin a pair of boots because your socks didn’t do their job.
  4. Riding helmet — If summer has you out riding on trails and seeing how fast your horse can go, riding helmets are absolutely essential. Don’t let vanity keep you from using your helmet. Troxel makes some really stylish riding helmets these days. Fashion is not more important than protecting your brain, so make sure you have a helmet and wear it every time.
  5. Comfortable jeans — Long hours of riding require comfortable clothes. If your riding jeans aren’t comfortable enough for riding on your horse for an hour or more, it’s time to consider buying a new pair or two. Look for jeans that fit nicely and offer a boot cut flare for the best riding experience.
  6. Appropriate shirts — Think about where and how you ride during the summer. Are you riding mostly through open fields? Wooded trails? Where you ride makes a difference for what type of shirts you should be wearing. If you’re riding through wooded areas, it’s more important to wear long-sleeve shirts, but that may not be as necessary if you’re riding through open fields. Either way, ensure that the shirts you wear are made of a breathable materials to make your rides more comfortable.
  7. Sunglasses — Protect your eyes while you’re out with a fashionable pair of sunglasses. You’ll want to ride a lot longer and further if you don’t have to squint all day.
  8. Sunscreen — If you’re prone to burning, don’t forget the sunscreen! Protect your skin while you’re outdoors and prevent premature aging by adding a layer of sunscreen before you go outside.

Did we forget one of your favorite summer riding essentials? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Springtime Barn Organization

With all of the tools and tack that you have probably have tucked away in your barn, not to mention the animals, it can be hard to stay organized and keep track of everything you need. Luckily, it’s that time of the year for spring cleaning – the perfect reason for you to gather up all of that grooming supplies, clean out your feed containers and implement storage ideas that will keep all of your barn necessities neat and easily accessible.

Below, you will find several helpful tips and storage inspirations to help you get your barn organized and keep it that way!

Organize your grooming supplies

Animals need a lot of different grooming equipment and shampoos, so it’s easy for wash stalls to get disorganized, especially if your supplies have nowhere else to go but in the corner on the floor. Fortunately, there are a variety of different storage containers and hanging organizers that will keep everything you need stashed, secure and out of the way!

Over-the-door shoe racks can literally be hung anywhere and are perfect for keeping brushes stowed away and dry.

For storing a variety of items together, most hanging organizers feature several different sized compartments that are ideal for keeping things like combs, wash stall clips and shampoo bottles. Any hanging organizer should work, but this Classic Hanging Groom Case is one of our favorites! Made from nylon and mesh, dirt can easily escape while items are kept secure within an arm’s reach.

Some of your grooming materials can even double as storage! This grooming stool from South Texas Tack opens up to a large storage container, complete with a removable tray to house combs, brushes and other accessories you find yourself using on a regular basis.

Clean out feed buckets

Feed buckets should be maintained regularly so your animals’ food doesn’t spoil or get infested by pests. Take this as an opportunity to wash out these containers, and if they’re old and worn, toss them out and replace with brand new ones. Be sure that you are storing all of your feed in air tight containers.

Organize tools and tack

It’s easy to leave bridles and leads strewn about the barn if they don’t have a designated storage area. Make sure your riding materials don’t get trampled and are kept in pristine condition by hanging them on wall-mounted tack racks, like this one here. You can also choose to wall mount a hook for bulkier items like saddles or pick up this Standing Saddle Rack that you can fold away for easy storage when not in use.

Many people swear by peg boards as a huge space saver and organizer in their garage space, so there’s no reason why this idea can’t translate into a great addition for your barn space. Peg boards are highly customizable to fit any size space, and you can place metal hooks as you see fit to store tools, tack, riding helmets and more.

Use horseshoes as hooks for everything else

If you’ve got more horseshoes than you know what to do with, put them to good use as hooks to easily hang leads or bridles immediately after a ride. These can be easily nailed into the wall and hung throughout the barn in areas where you need a little extra hanging space. Using horseshoes as hooks is not only useful, but also adds a nice decorative aesthetic.

How do you like to keep things in order inside your barn? Share your own tips in the comments below and be sure to check out the rest of our barn organization products at South Texas Tack!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Best Horseback Riding Trails in Missouri

If you’ve been following the South Texas Tack blog for very long, you know we love getting to know another state by seeing where we could go for a good horseback ride. This month, we’re taking a closer look at the best trails Missouri has to offer.

Wild Rose Equine Center — Located just outside of Kansas City near Platte City, the Wild Rose Equine Center offers a variety of services, including riding lessons, trail rides and more. Whether you’re looking for a weekend away or a fun afternoon, this property has what you’re looking for! The trails go through open fields, woods and creeks and are great for riders of all experience levels.

Turkey Creek Ranch — This 700-acre property near the Missouri-Arkansas border offers visitors so many different activities. In addition to horseback riding, visitors to Turkey Creek Ranch can enjoy water skiing, tennis, shuffleboard, canoeing and more. Make a weekend of it and stay at one of the ranch’s cabins for a relaxing time with family or friends.

Meramec River Cabins — Perfect for newer riders, Meramec Farm Cabins and Trail Rides in Bourbon, Missouri, southwest of St. Louis, offers group trail rides and hourly rentals. Their gorgeous horses are sure to make the visit especially enjoyable. In addition to hourly rentals, more experienced riders can bring their own horse and explore the trails unguided for the day.

Golden Hills Trail Rides — Found in the stunning Ozark Mountains in Southern Missouri, Golden Hills Trail Rides is perfect for riders of all skill levels. Riders of the property’s 200 miles of trails are rewarded with sightings of deer and other local wildlife. In addition to unguided rides, the complex offers organized rides throughout the year, giving visitors two different and fun experiences to take advantage of.

Plain & Fancy Trails — This bed and breakfast and stable property 80 miles from St. Louis is the perfect way to spend a day. Riders have the opportunity to stay at the Plain & Fancy B&B or visit for the day just to ride. Visitors can experience fun creek views and woods scenery.

4-J Big Piney Horse Camp — This camp in Waynesville, Missouri, has been combining country hospitality along with gorgeous views. Fun for the whole family, 4-J Big Piney Horse Camp is a great place to vacation with the whole family and instill a love of horseback riding in younger children.

Know of a great trail in Missouri we left off our list? Let us know in the comments below!