A Challenging Horse and a Never Quit Attitude

Castlebar Link in an 80K ride in Killarney, NSW Australia with Pamela Karner riding in her Barefoot Lexington Treeless Dressage Saddle.

Pamela Karner is an endurance rider and an equine veterinarian. She has had quite an eventful time with her endurance gelding, Castlebar Link, or Link for short. Even after several serious accidents, Pam has persevered and continues to ride, train and plan for her next endurance ride with Link, a beautiful chestnut Anglo-Arabian.

Pam travels to Australia every winter, and that is where she found Link. Pam explains, “I picked Castlebar Link out as a three-year-old from a large, very successful endurance stud. They kept him over the winter and sent him to their trainer for four weeks. I picked him up the following year when I was back in Australia. That year he broke my leg, knee, and ankle with an explosive move while I was on the ground! I had never been hurt like that in 30-plus years of my large animal veterinary practice!”

”The following year he broke his splint bone in the pasture and required surgery,” she continues. “So we were even, both broken once. His six-year-old year he dumped me and I refused to let go of the long split reins, as I was alone in the Australian bush. His response was to double barrel the creature scaring him from behind… thus another hospital visit and surgery.

“The next two years I was determined to go back and start over with this affectionate, lovely horse who was fantastic to ride 99% of the time, but when frightened was over the top explosive. My natural horsemanship friend and coach here in the US was very helpful.

“Link has gradually come along. He is still not a horse to take for granted! We have managed to successfully ride multiple 40K rides and 4,80K rides. I am hoping that he will be ready for the Quilty 100-mile ride next year! It is a challenge in many ways. Link gets 7 months off every year. I start him back every December and leave early May!”

Do Stirrups Make a Difference?


Andrew Marlen riding in EZ Ride Stirrups with Cage

The short answer is yes! Stirrups now come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Personal preferences and style of riding have quite a lot to do with your stirrup of choice. However, safety stirrups are often preferred by trail, endurance, and recreational riders and safety should always be a consideration around horses. The worst train wrecks with horses are never predictable. That’s why a helmet will only provide protection if it’s on your head at all times. Same applies to safety stirrups. Safety stirrups can help to enable you to get clear of the saddle and the horse when needed.

One component of being safe in the saddle is how your foot is placed in the stirrup. You should strive to only have the ball of your foot in the stirrup, no further. This is a safety measure to help your foot come out of the stirrup when necessary. Also the old “heels down” rule is not just for looks. When your weight is in your heel, your foot will slide out of the stirrup easily. It amazes me to see Grand Prix jumper riders ride with what looks like only their toe in the stirrup as they fly over five-foot fences.

If you choose to ride with safety stirrups, there are so many more choices today. It’s like we’ve had a stirrup explosion. But first, let’s not forget the tried and true Peacock Stirrups.

Fillis Peacock Stirrups

One would think that the elastic bands on the outside would come off all the time, but actually, they do not. Generally, a rider doesn’t put their weight on the outside of the stirrup, so your foot rarely touches the outside of the stirrup which is where the elastic bands are. Peacocks are a favorite choice for children in English saddles, yet many ladies also choose this stirrup for peace of mind. It does require an English 1” leather to go with it.

Icelandic Stirrups

Icelandic Stirrups have the top bar of the stirrup at a 90 degree angle to the base of the stirrup. This allows the stirrup to hang perpendicular to the saddle, so you are able to slide your foot into the stirrup easily without fishing for it. It also has an S curve shaping to the sides that allow your foot to come out of the stirrup more easily. They also require an English 1” stirrup leather.

EZ Ride Stirrups with Cage

EZ Stirrups with Cage prevent your foot from sliding through the stirrup, much like western Tapederos stirrups.  Riders have told me that small twigs and leaves can get caught in the cage holes when you are brush busting. However, there are many happy people riding with EZ Ride Stirrups with Cage with no problem, and they are very popular with endurance riders. You can use a western or endurance fender, or 1” or 2” leathers with EZ Ride Stirrups.

Flexible Stirrup Irons

English Flexible Stirrups have a rubber covered hinge that flexes when you put pressure on it with your ankle. It helps to absorb the motion of your horse’s gaits, particularly in the sitting trot. The flexible hinge will release your foot to slide out during a fall. Many people find them more comfortable than a traditional English stirrup iron.

EZ Ride Aluminum Ultimate Stirrups with Cage

Easycare came out with a new EZ Ride Aluminum Ultimate Stirrup with Cage that is a lightweight safety stirrup that prevents your foot from going through the stirrup. It has a nice cushion pad and wide platform for your foot. It can be used with any size fenders or stirrup leathers.

So, when you are considering your choice of stirrups, consider your own comfort. But also keep safety in the forefront of your mind.

Saddle Fitting is Evolving

A variety of DP Saddlery endurance and trail saddles.

There is so much going on in the world of saddle fitting that it’s overwhelming. We get people calling us in total frustration – trying to get a saddle to fit their horse. These are customers who have had custom saddles, tried numerous saddles, and just can’t get anything to work. It can be challenging, as there are so many options. There is usually a conformation challenge involved with their horse, and some specific requirements that the rider needs.

Do we solve these saddle fit nightmares? Sometimes! We don’t just sell saddles from one saddlery, and Action Rider Tack is probably one of the only companies in the world with such a varied selection of treed and treeless saddles. We find we need a wide variety of saddles, saddle pads, shims, girths and cinches to be able to help customers make selections that make sense for their particular horse and horse activities.

Saddles are an investment, but an important one for your horse. A quality saddle can last up to 30 years or more! I know that for a fact as I have retired an over 30-year-old saddle reluctantly. It was an old friend. My butt knew that saddle and it was hard to replace. However, getting the right saddle regardless of the money invested is well worth it. You and your horse must be comfortable. Poor saddle fit can be the cause of resistant behaviors, sore backs, sour attitudes, and even lameness.

There are some new tools in the saddle fitting shed. DP Saddlery of Germany has introduced to the United States their adjustable gullet saddles. These saddles have truly revolutionized the saddle fitting world.

One of DP Saddlery’s Baroque style adjustable gullet saddles.

There is a strong gear in the pommel area of the saddle tree that can be incrementally adjusted, millimeter by millimeter with the simple turn of an Allen wrench. This is superior to different replacement gullets or different tree sizes. What if your horse is in between sizes? A rider can turn the allen wrench, no strength required, until the saddle sits level, clears the spine, and does not impede the shoulder. The tree is a flexible carbon fiber, and the panels are attached at the front and the rear of the saddle to aid in the saddle flexing and moving with the horse.

The selection of DP Saddles styles will appeal to almost everyone – English all purpose, dressage, endurance, Baroque style, western, and trail saddles. It’s very exciting. It might be the last saddle you will ever buy, as obviously you can easily adjust it from horse to horse. The panels underneath are traditionally wool stuffed and can be reflocked or restuffed to customize it to your horse if necessary.

Stacy and Jim’s Training Strategies On the Road to Tevis

Stacy Motschenbacher riding Coyote Jim, her Mustang gelding. To her left is Gina Rice, riding Biscuit. These two teams are both training for Tevis and sponsored by Aciton Rider Tack and Toklat, Inc.
Stacy Motschenbacher riding Coyote Jim, her Mustang gelding. To her left is Gina Rice, riding Biscuit. These two teams are both training for Tevis and sponsored by Action Rider Tack and Toklat, Inc.


Action Rider Tack and Toklat, Inc., are sponsoring Stacy Motschenbacher and her 10-year-old Mustang gelding, Coyote Jim, who are on their way to the 2015 Tevis Cup. On June 15, 2015, they participated in the Limestone Challenge near Selma, Oregon, as part of their preparation to ride the Tevis Cup, the 100-mile endurance ride.

Stacy’s comments, “The Limestone Challenge was a great 50-mile training ride. The elevation profile showed that in 50 miles, the trail went up 10,000 feet. Tevis goes up 19,000 feet in 100 miles, so this really was a good example of what that kind of elevation change looks like.”

“Jim did well,” continues Stacy. “Only comment the veterinarian at the vet check, Dr. Benson, said was he could lose a little weight! Sheesh, never had a horse that I have ridden this hard that needed to be on a constant diet!”

“I think what will be much harder about Tevis is that the trail itself is harder and the heat will be over 20 degrees hotter during the day. Plus add the stress of 200 riders at the start. Plus hour after hour of riding takes its toll. Problems that you can get away with on a 50-mile ride start to become an issue with longer miles.”

“Next on my training schedule is a ride in the heat with Gina Rice, also sponsored by Action Rider Tack and Toklat, Inc, on their rode to Tevis. I will also go to The Tevis Educational Ride, to get some tips from others who have ridden it before.”

“I am trying to give Jim some time off, but we really do need to do some rides in the heat. After the Tevis Educational ride, which will be two tough days of riding, I will be doing more heat training, while trying not to over ride him.”

July Action Rider of the Month – Kaidyn Griggs

Kaidyn riding Magical on the Klickitat Trek Endurance Ride in Washington. Photo credit: Casseera
Kaidyn Griggs riding Magical on the Klickitat Trek Endurance Ride in Washington.
Photo credit: Cassidy Rae Joyce cassidyraephotography.instaproofs.com

Kaidyn Griggs is the Action Rider for the month of July. It is so refreshing to see the next generation in the saddle, especially on an endurance ride. This little girl and her pony are burning up the trail and obviously enjoying every minute of it.

Kaidyn is seven years old and often rides with her grandmother, Debby Griggs. Debby comments, “My granddaughter rode two 25-mile rides in 2014, and we have ridden one 25-mile this year and another Saturday/Sunday ride with 25 miles each day!”

“Kaidyn is also a hunter rider and takes lessons and participates in horse shows,” Debby continues. “We laughed last year as she was drinking out of a tippy cup before cantering her pony around the arena. When she was three, she would sit in the corner of the arena wrapped in a horse blanket and just wait for me to finish riding so we could cool out my horse. She has always loved to ride.”

A bit on the shy side, Kaidyn’s trainer was once asked during her lesson, “How do you know she understands and is listening?”

He called out to her, “You listen and understand right?” She nodded her head yes, and he called out her next jump course. As she completed the course the onlooker smiled and said, “Yep, I think you two have a silent language and it works.”

The gray pony Kaidyn is riding is Magical. He is 11 hands tall and the Griggs have owned him for two years now. He is said to be fifteenish. Debbie adds, “He is a little beast, as is his rider!”

“Just last night Kaidyn said I had to ride with her,” Debbie continues. “I didn’t want to as it was so hot, but she said after I set her jumps….’Get on, Grandma.’  She is definitely my inspiration!”