Welcome to the first guest blogger post of the year. This one comes from the always fascinating Global Horse Culture Blog (http://globalhorseculture.typepad.com/global_horse_culture/) and is reprinted with permission.
Do It Yourself Tack
by Ona "girasol" Kiser
This horse in rural Brazil, in a mountainous area inland from São Paulo, is wearing tack that is about ninety-percent handmade. Store-bought tack is not affordable to many rural folks, and many of them rely on horses or mules for getting around, so it is not uncommon for people to make their own tack from whatever parts and pieces they can find. Nino, the gentleman who owns this horse, made nearly everything you see himself. Like others in the area, he even does his own shoeing and doctoring (more on that later).
I thought the ornament on the saddle bags was a nice touch, and the front string girth - made from collected strands of green baling twine - was a creative solution (it has now been replaced by a US-made Western-style wool string girth, which I sent to him as thanks for showing us his horses and farm). The stirrups are also interesting. I didn't get a close-up photo, but they are originally English-style "safety stirrups" given to him by a visitor; he then used a decorative brass chain to fill in the gap where the rubber band had been.
The bridle, which you can see more closely below, combines hair-on cowhide, brass rings from old parade gear, braided rawhide and manufactured cotton rope.