Trail rides bring back memories for us. Having gone on more than we can remember, there are still certain insignificant events that come to mind as you see new riders starting out. Saddle bags are a good example. For Christmas one year, Santa brought a set of saddle bags. Although owning some as a child, this was my first set of full size bags. The first chance to use them on a trail ride, I strapped them to the saddle and away we went.
It was a good ride and not a bad experience, but I learned using them created more work than I anticipated. These saddle bags were the western style that go behind you and tie to the saddle using the latigo. As you step into the saddle, you have to swing your leg out to clear the bag. The horse I was riding at that time didn’t stand nearly as well as a good trail horse should so getting in the saddle was a little more challenging.
The most important thing I learned came the first time I dismounted. My right leg slid under the bag on the right side of the horse. It sort of threw me off-balance and I ended up with my leg stuck until my weight pulled the bag all the way over. Packed full of junk, it weighed enough to temporarily hold me there. I didn’t fall getting to the ground, but it was hardly graceful. I realized any need to dismount in a hurry was going to take some adjustment. No big deal, but anytime I see someone trying out their saddle bags for the first time on a trail ride, I still remember learning these simple lessons.
Today there are countless styles, fabrics, colors, and designs. For a short ride, I like the pommel bag that goes over the saddle horn. Easy to access and small, a little bag can be handy for things like cell phones, cameras, or even a bottle of water. The style really depends on your likes. A friend of mine likes the insulated nylon bags. He brings them filled with soft drinks that stay cold most of the day.
Before you buy some, see if you can try different types. Using a set for even for just 30 minutes gives you a good idea if you will like them. Most trail riders are more than willing to let your horse carry their bags for a while and no reason to buy what doesn’t fit your needs.