Sunday, July 27, 2014

HPG Kit Bag Review: Carrying While Riding

I have tried a few different ways of carrying while riding.  I carry a Glock 23 which is a midsize 40 caliber hand gun that holds up to a total of 14 rounds (13 in the mag, one in the chamber).  It's not the lightest gun, but I don't want to carry anything smaller and a more compact model would not be as accurate until the threat got closer. 

I have ridden with a shoulder holster and it's fine at a walk but as soon as you begin to trot or canter it wasn't as stable as I had hoped.  Same with a belt holster.  What the big problem is with the belt holster is that breeches are made out of thin material.  I have no problem with jeans on but I don't ride in jeans.  The belt loops on breeches are flimsy and some are too small to get a good belt through.  They are made for small, thin belts. So even if you have a good belt/hip holster those things combined make it unstable while wearing breeches.  Again, fine at the walk.  So if you are just going to go out for a slow trail ride I suppose you would be fine.

I have found the solution to all my problems.  It is the Hill People Gear Snubby Kit Bag.  This thing is AMAZING.  There are several different sizes of kit bags to fit different size weapons, depending on what you carry.  The website lists which models/sizes fit in which bag.  If you can't find it, just email them.  I had a question about the Snubby and Hill People answered my email within a day. 


You can see in the above picture that it has four straps and the bag is on your chest.  There is a harness that the straps attach to a comfortable harness in the back.  All the straps are fully adjustable.  This thing is SUPER comfortable to wear.  The weight of the gun isn't even noticeable when wearing this.  I seriously forgot I even had it on while I was riding.  This thing doesn't move at the walk, trot, canter, or even gallop.

There are two compartments on it, if you look on the left side of the picture of me wearing it you can see the zipper pulls for the main compartment, that is where the weapon goes.  The front compartment is small for putting your phone, small first aid kit, etc... in.  I keep my weapons license in it since I am required to have it on me while carrying.

 Super easy to draw out of at a stand still or any moving gait.


 Don't even know it's there.  The harness and straps also do not interfere whatsoever with you while riding.  I could easily jump a course with it on and not notice it.

 Drawing my weapon out of the kit bag at a canter.

Just pull the zipper pulls and the weapon is out in about two seconds.

 It is also very easy to put your weapon back in the bag at any gait.  So in case you don't want to stop moving but want to put it away and pick up a gallop to escape the threat, it's very easy to do so.

At a trot.  You can't tell but in this picture but my arm is at a 45 degree angle over Klein.

This was just practicing drawing, I would not shoot over her head.  If you click to enlarge this picture you can see the back harness a little better.  (Excuse my heel, yuck, what was it doing?)

Another great thing about this bag, not all of us live in states that allow open carry.  Georgia does allow it with a weapons license, so when I was carrying in a shoulder holster and on my hip I would be open carrying.  The thing is, this is Georgia, it is no shock to see someone around here with a gun on their hip.  But what happens when we move and potentially end up in a state that does not allow open carry?  Or what about you guys out there that want to carry but do not want to go to the trouble of wearing extra clothing to conceal a weapon (especially during summer) because you don't live in an OC state?  Or what about when we haul into Florida to trail ride?  My weapons license allows me to carry concealed in Florida.  There is no open carry.  Problem solved with a kit bag!  The weapon is concealed and for all those around you know you might have just a first aid kit in the bag or your epi-pen in case of an allergic reaction.  

 Of course, you guys need to know the laws in your state before you even consider carrying while riding.  It is 100% up to you to know the law before you ever fire a shot.  You also need to obtain a license to carry based upon the laws of your state.  I have two licenses that allow me to carry both open and concealed in the state of Georgia and to carry concealed in those states that share reciprocity with the Georgia weapons license.

Why do I carry when I ride?  This has been discussed to death on the original blog.  Aggressive dogs are why.  I posted the first picture in this post on Draft Horse Friends, a large Facebook group, and it quickly got over 300 likes and 100 comments within a matter of hours.  As you can imagine there were some people that assumed I got mad at a dog that chased me one day and decided to just go get a gun.  A lot of people were very supportive.  Other people said I better be able to tell the difference between an excited dog and an aggressive dog.   

Let me explain this one more time.  Do I want to shoot someone's pet?  No, never.  Will I shoot an aggressive dog?  If it is trying to attack my horses, absolutely.  Klein and I have been chased by dogs in every state we have lived in.  Hawaii had a MAJOR problem with loose dogs attacking pedestrians going for an evening walk through their neighborhood.  Two pitbulls attacked two separate people on opposite sides of the island in one day and killed them both.  These people were just out minding their own business walking in their neighborhood.  A PACK of pig hunting dogs attacked a girl there and her horse.  They pulled her off her horse and attacked them both.  The girl ended up in ICU and the horse had severe injuries.  It is still going on, here is an article from this past March:

When Wes and I were working together numerous dogs came out to chase him.  Lucky for them Wes never did kick at them.  I have explained plenty of times to these people that laugh and think it is cute that if Wes kicked their dog and killed it we would be at no fault.  THEIR dog was the one that was not under control and running out onto a public road way.  That reminds me of this story out of Sacremento:

The list goes on and on, you can find these sad stories involving the deaths of animals and people by dog attacks all day long:

That one has the typical response that I even see in my career when we are prosecuting someone for committing horrific crimes and they enter a guilty plea.  "She raised them from pups. They've never been raised to fight or be mean," said George Tapp, the father of the dogs' owner. "They're good-natured dogs. There's no meanness in them at all."  Same thing the families say in court about the person that is on trial, almost every story starts with "I never though he/she/it would/could do something like that."

And in Georgia:

Even closer to home, a woman was attacked and killed by her neighbor's Pitbull when she went to the neighbor's house to borrow something.  That did not happen far from where we live.  I'm not trying to pick on Pitbulls but the majority of the stories involve them or some type of Pitbull mix.  I know any breed can get violent.

As far as me knowing the difference between excited and aggressive.  Well, there is the most annoying dog ever down the road.  Every time we ride by he barks nonstop and follows us.  We just call him dumb dog.  Dumb dog is easily excitable.  He's always loose and runs into the road after cars too.  Sometimes my friend and I chase him out of the road on our horses.  I've run into plenty of dogs like this.  We either chase them or yell and they run off.  It's the ones that sprint a quarter of a mile and go through a fence and into the road snarling and lunging at the horses that are walking a fine line.

As far as knowing the law.  I have an advantage with my career being that I am a Paralegal in the Air Force.  I deal with law on a daily basis for hours, and hours.  I have read the Georgia code as it applies to aggressive animals threatening/attacking people and livestock.  As far as shooting and weapons education, I've been shooting and handling weapons since I was ten.  More importantly, my Other Half is a Federal Agent and has more weapons and shooting training than one person would need for two lifetimes.  In other words, I have a great shooting instructor!  

 My Other Half.  This guys knows what he's doing.  When he isn't out capturing Taliban in Afghanistan he is wearing a suit and investigating felony level crimes.

I don't want this post to provoke people into thinking it's no big deal to go buy this kit bag and a gun and ride around with absolutely no training or education.  As I mentioned earlier it is 100% on you anytime you pull the trigger on a weapon for any reason.  You either know the law or you don't, and by not knowing it you could get yourself into some big trouble.

Another question was what would Klein do?  I have not shot off of Klein yet.  Klein has been around close gun fire.  She recently had a .38 fired near her and she didn't even look up.  Ambulances don't bother her, sonic booms loud enough to make your chest pop don't bother her, F-22 fighter jets taking off next to her don't bother her, Chinook helicopters landing and taking off in front of her.  However, a .40 going off three feet from her ears would be different.  I know this.  I think I have found a place we can go to work on this more and fire close and off of her.  But I have ran about every scenario in my head of what could happen (good and bad) and know what I would do to handle it.  You have to think of everything.  You don't always see the threat coming in the distance, sometimes it can pop out of the bushes in front of you.

Remember I have had Klein since she was two years old.  She's ten now.  I started her and did all her training.  We have competed all over the country, traveled halfway around the world together (we moved to Hawaii and back when I was stationed there), we've run a lot of xc courses together, ridden in some extreme situations, have done crowd control next to an active flight line with 757's coming in over our head, etc, etc...  We have a VERY strong bond.  That's not to say that doesn't make her any less of the fight or flight animal that she is but I know her and how to handle her and we trust each other.  This is not some random horse that I ride on a free lease for the summer or something.

Believe me I hope I never get into a situation where I have to defend myself and the horses against an attacking dog.  But I would rather have my weapon and not need it than need it and not have it.  One thing that the military has taught me that sticks with me every single day is:  COMPLACENCY KILLS.

Back to my original point with this post, the Kit Bags made by Hill People Gear are AWESOME!  Huge thank you to them for coming up with such an great product!!!!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

We're Back.

 *Le Sigh*  This horse...what would I do without her??

After being out of town for close to a month, we are back to work.  I had a great time with the other half on our trips to Ohio and Maine but I am happy to be home and back on a horse. 

Dinner with my Heart on Moosehead Lake.

Standing in Moosehead Lake.

Before we headed out I did get a couple more rides in on Mochi with the Pelham. She continued to improve so we are just going to see where this goes.

 Ha, we took them for a walk.  There's a Mochi pony in there somewhere!  Excuse Klein's filth.  We have to practice for some nice pictures once it cools off a little around here.

 Everyone got bathed and had their pedicure yesterday.

 Clearly bored.

 Mochi is always the model citizen for her feet, here she is falling asleep.

 Wes just hanging out getting his feet done.  My next post will be pics of how much improvement his feet are making.  They are AMAZING!

 He has been home almost six months already.  Some days it still doesn't seem real that he is home.

 These showed up in the mail while we were gone.  They are a BEAST!!!!  They are PERFECT for full drafts!  My Oster A5 turbo clippers were no match for Wes' coat.  These things go through it like it's not even there.  I am SO happy with them!  I would highly recommend them.  They are expensive at almost $300 but they are worth it and you will definitely get your money's worth from them.

 The Other Half clipped Wes yesterday and he clipped a heart into him for me :)  He also brought me food to the barn yesterday because he knows I completely forget about food when I am with horses, which is a TERRIBLE habit.  He is that awesome.

 My handsome grazing in the sunrise this morning.  This picture makes me so happy.  He SO deserves this retirement life.

I got Klein baby out for some flat work today.  I wouldn't expect anything different.  No matter how long I am gone we always pick up where we left off like I never left.  Even after a four month deployment when she was four years old and I had started her only three months before I deployed.  I don't quite understand people that post things like "Oh Buttercup was just PERFECT today after eight days off!"  If your horse forgets that it's a domesticated riding horse over the course of a week/month off than you might need to re-evaluate some things.  Or maybe it's just that big of a shithead normally that you would expect it to throw a fit about having to work after a break?  I don't know, but I have never owned a horse like that.

 Her majesty working today, cantering ground rails on a 20m circle. 


 Had a short gallop just to get her stretched out.  Klein and I have over seven years together now and she still puts me on Cloud 9.