We used to think that horses didn’t need designer treats, and maybe they don’t. But that hasn’t kept us from buying lots of manufactured horse treats along with sugar and carrots. We also used to think that we had no need for a separate way to carry the treats, other than in our pockets. But, again, manufacturers are making them, and we’re buying them. What we’ve found is that pouches aren’t only a better way to carry treats than in pockets, but they also carry a lot of things our pockets don’t.
The problem, of course, is with that silly key pocket sewn into the waistband of breeches. Make that women’s breeches. Men’s breeches usually have decent-sized pockets. A key pocket will barely hold a folded piece of paper, and most of us have at some time tried to hand a check to our trainer that was so soggy from sweat it was embarrassing.
With the return of pleats in breeches over the last decade, slash pockets have also returned in some models but not the majority. The trend in pleats and pockets, however, is counteracted by the trend in stretchy slip-on breeches that have mere key pockets or none at all.
However, we’ve found that even the roomy pockets in jeans are inaccessible if you put on full chaps. And, treats can line your pockets with crumbs, which may end up in the wash. Pouches are just a neater way to carry treats.
We also found that pouches can carry many things other than treats. Those designed to carry more than just sugar can also carry small objects such as money, sunglasses, or saddle-grip products. This is a neat way to carry something on the trail or out to the ring when you don’t want a pouch as large as a fanny pack.
We’ve tried treat bags before that came from various non-horsey sources. None of them worked all that well. The treat bags here have been test-ridden and held up to barn use. The one big disadvantage comes if you own a Cookie Monster and carry treats in your pouch. Your horse could become a confirmed nudger if you don’t look out.
The Zuker Tasha, from Tack in the Box, $12.95, is a little leather pocket with a sturdy metal clip on the back that easily slips onto your belt, waistband, boot or saddle D-ring (see the pouch photo on the cover of this issue). At a flat 3 1/2” x 4”, it isn’t any bigger than the key pocket on your breeches, but since it’s outside your waistband, its contents stay dry and are easy to reach. It holds eight cubes of sugar, and the flap is kept down by Velcro. Since it stays flat against your body, it can be worn underneath your arm, and you don’t notice it.
The Zuckermeister, in the Dover catalog, $3.95, is a tiny black neoprene pocket. It is only 2 1/2” x 3 1/2”, but it also sticks out about 2”. It holds a dozen cubes of sugar. Two Velcro strips wrap around a belt and then stick any place on the fuzzy neoprene, so it doesn’t look as tidy as some of other bags. It closes with Velcro.
The Biscuit Pouch from Grand Prix Horse Biscuits, is an elegant leather pouch, 6 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 2”, with a boutique price of $45. It’s certainly pretty enough to wear away from the barn. It comes in black or saddle brown.
It can hold 10 “cookies” or four dozen cubes. It has leather loops on the back that thread onto your belt and a zipper closure that needs one hand to open — so you can keep one hand on the reins — but a steadying second hand to close, unlike the Velcro flaps on other pouches. The pouch is secure and comfortable. It can easily hold sunglasses or a cellular phone.
The Whinny Widgets Pouch, $13.50, is made from woven black Cordura nylon with a foam inner layer. It was originally designed to hold the Whinny Widgets test booklets, along with sugar cubes. It is thus longer than it is wide (4 1/2” x 6 1/2”), and it sticks out about 1 1/2”. However, it stays secure against the body.
It has two pockets: The back pocket has a flap with a Velcro dot and can hold 10 cookies or the test booklet. The front pocket with no flap, which can hold a handful of cubes, is secured with a thin Velcro strip. The pouch is roomy enough to hold a cell phone or sunglasses.
The Snack Bag by Shapley is a blue denim bag, 5 1/2” x 5 1/2” and sticks out about 3”. It has a nylon string slip closure and hangs down from a nylon swivel snap that hooks onto a belt loop or a saddle ring. It costs $14.95 and comes with five ounces of Shapley’s Snacks. It can be opened one-handed but takes two hands to close. When snapped onto the front D-ring of the saddle, it bounces somewhat when riding because it only has the attachment at the top. However, if you need a bag to hook onto your waist that can hold more than a dozen cookies, this will do the trick. It’s machine washable.
These are all well-made, useful bags, but our favorite is the Zuker Tasha because of its discrete size, ease of use and stability. Best Buy is the Zuckermeister.
Contact Your Local Tack Store Or: Zuckermeister, Dover, 800/989-1500, www.doversaddlery.com; Zuker Tasha, Tack in the Box, 800/456-8225, www.tackinthebox.com; Grand Prix Horse Biscuits, Blue Mountain Biscuit Co., 877/929-6600; www.bluemountainbiscuit.com; Shapley’s, 800/982-2017, www.shapleys.com; Whinny Widgets, 800/814-0141, www.whinnywidgets.com.