Putting saddle bags in front of the saddle

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Putting saddle bags in front of the saddle

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    01-14-2011, 06:38 PM
Putting saddle bags in front of the saddle

Seems kind of a strange way to do it . . . But . . .

The particular saddle I have for Mr. Big (Black Forest treeless) naturally wants to sit pretty far back. I've tried moving it forward and it moves itself back. It seems comfortable for the horse and I know it is comfortable for me. Sweat patterns don't indicate any problems.

But, since the saddle is back a bit, it puts the saddle bags back a bit, too. But, there also seems to be quite a bit of room in front of the saddle over his whithers before getting to the articulated part of his neck.

I've read that putting heavy saddle bags over the loins is a bad thing. But if I'm horse camping, my saddle bags are going to be pretty heavy--there is just no way to get all the heavy stuff into the pommel bags.

So, I thought, why not put the saddle bags up front?

I went out today and tried it. Didn't cinch up the saddle, nor load up the bags, but put the saddle on and then attached the bags to the front of it instead of the back of it. It seems to fit really, really, well. Basically, it looked like big pommel bags.

My gear is from Trail Max and the bags are really close together. I'm not sure it'd fit as well if the bags were as far apart as the Mrs. Old set are. But with these, it seemed to work.

Long lead in. Now, my question for the Good Folks on the Forum: As long as they seem to fit well, is there any reason not to use saddle bags as big pommel bags and put 'em up front? It gets the weight where it belongs and they don't seem to be in the way (I say without actually riding that way).

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    01-14-2011, 08:12 PM
I have no personal experience to add, only that I look for you to tell us how it worked, once you have tried it. I wish my husband liked to ride and was into horse camping. That would be dream come true!
    01-14-2011, 09:05 PM
Tiny, if the weather ever decides to cooperate, I'll let you know! I'm traveling next month and will be at a store that has nice saddlebags for cheap. I may get a smaller set than the ones I now have to put in front. Sized sort of halfway between my pommel and saddle bags.

Might also help to shorten the cross piece by sewing it up to keep the bags even higher on the withers. I'll just have to experiment and see what works.

One advantage of extra big "pommel" bags is it'll make it easier to pack everything in for camping!
    01-18-2011, 04:27 PM
I don't remember if it was on this forum or another where I mentioned Karen Bragg out here in Oregon. She came to an OR Equestrian Trails meeting and demonstrated her method for one-horse packing. Now she rides in with her husband so they share the community stuff. No need to take more than one, you know? Anyway, in addition to fairly large rear saddlebags, she had designed some for the front, over the withers. If I remember right, they were kind of like burlap bags only made out of canvas and pretty good-sized. She would put horse feed in them and also apples or potatoes to keep them from getting bruised. On a pack trip my friend tried this method and didn't care for it. As I've said before, I have the horses and the room to haul them so I use a packhorse and don't carry that much on my riding horse. I'm sure to him, though, it feels like a lot!!
    01-19-2011, 09:21 PM
While riding at Hell's Gate today I decided to try packing the saddle bags and putting 'em up front. Worked like a charm! I think it's more comfortable for Mr. Big and they aren't in my way at all. In the pix I have the pommel bags on top of the saddle bags. That was a pain 'cause they are too bulky up there. On the first stop I moved 'em to behind the saddle.

Which, conveniently, left the cantle bag compression straps on the saddle bags available to hold my jacket which I took off because it got too warm. Too warm for a jacket in Northern Idaho in the middle of January. Go figure.

I also learned that I'll need to better secure the saddle bags to the D rings so keep them from shifting. I ended up with just enough more weight in the left bag that they kept sliding over. I solved it by taking the tag end of the cantle bag compression strap holding the left side of my jacket (fairly long since my jacket is a lot smaller than the cantle bag and running it to the right D ring to provide a crossover support so it couldn't shift.

Conclusion: this will work GREAT! And, for camping, I can put a second set of saddle bags behind the saddle with clothes and other lightweight stuff. Should give me way more storage space than I need.

BTW, the saddle bags are loaded with a full camp kitchen, some food for lunch, a couple of extra jackets and pairs of gloves, 3 water bottles, and misc. Other stuff to fill them up. And they have the "insuliners" in them which just takes up space. Be EASY to pack for camping!
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    01-20-2011, 07:14 AM
Looks good!! The test ride is done so I guess it's time to head out on the first camping trip and really test it out!
    01-20-2011, 11:31 AM
Amen Nokota! Now, another 40 degrees and we'll be all set! Well, 20 degrees from yesterday--but at another 3000 feet of elevation!

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