Tennessee’s Big South Fork is rugged country so most riders carry saddlebags filled with….whatever they might need! In Book 1, Fool Me Once, freelance feature writer, Sara Blevans is out riding one day, thinking about writing an article on what riders should carry in their saddlebags when she encounters a woman just tying her horse at a hitching rail. The two sit on a flat rock in the sun and eat together while Mindy Morrison-Myers removes the items in her large saddlebag one at a time and explains them to Sara.
A trail saddle or a western saddle has a lot of strategically placed D-rings for attaching a variety of bags and riders may want to carry a water bottle, lunch, maybe a Walmart bag to sit on if a picnic bench or the ground is damp, a lead rope to tie up with and a cell phone as well as contact info, a copy of their horses’ Coggins and perhaps a small amount of money. They probably want to carry a hoofpick and a hoof boot in case the horse loses a shoe on the trail…kind of like a spare tire!
They may also choose to carry a waterproof trail map, and a tiny roll of campers’ biodegradable toilet paper. Many have one of those multi-plier tools with knife, saw blade, screwdriver, wire cutter etc., a couple of plastic tie wraps, some thin line or a rawhide lace and a double-ended snap for effecting temporary repairs, fire starter and waterproof matches, a pen and surveyor’s tape so they can write a message and tie it to a tree branch, a space blanket, a loud whistle, a signaling mirror, a tiny plastic hooded rain poncho, maybe a packable nylon windbreaker, Deep Woods “OFF” towelettes, a roll of vetrap (useful for splinting or making a sling), powdered coagulant (for veterinary use), a tube of electrolyte paste and a syringe of Banamine, an anti-spasmodic/pain killer in the dreaded event that a horse colics, or worse, on the trail. For humans, they may want to put together a kit with medical supplies, including aspirin/Aleve/Tylenol/Advil, Pepcid, Benadryl, a folding cup, Visine, moleskin, bandaids, AfterBite or StingStopper, a chemical ice pack, iodine wipes, gauze compress and adhesive bandage, tweezers and a CAT scanner (just kidding).
Most western or trail saddles are equipped with saddle strings so it’s easy to bring along extra clothing such as a shirt or sweatshirt. It’s also not a bad idea to pack a pair of thin socks and two plastic Walmart bags to put on over the socks so feet can be slipped back into wet boots, in the event the rider goes overboard during water crossings!
Many who come from less rugged country have not had to carry serious saddlebags so the best advice is the saying, “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.”
All three books in the Riverwood series have main characters with horses and who ride…a lot. Reader who love to read books about horses will enjoy this saga as characters they met in Book 1, to be released sometime fairly soon, continue into Book 2, A Bitter Wind Blows, now at the publisher. Book 3, Signs of Life, was just completed.