Brie Albright owns and operates LBArrow Cinch Co. where she makes and sells her own mohair tack along with other gifts. She and her husband Landon do a lot of trail riding and packing in the back country. She shares the most beautiful pictures from those trips on her Instagram page, Loki_Toki.
Brie’s story shows a diverse background in horses, hard work, and an unwavering drive to follow her dreams. Even including a real life romance story of finding the perfect adventure partner. I would call her tenacious, skillful, and determined. She shares how she’s built the life she’s always wanted and found her niche in the small business world. I’m so excited to share with you the interview I had with her.
How did you get started with horses and into packing?
B: I was blessed to grow up with horses. I was your typical horse crazy child. Completely obsessed. I guess you could argue that I still am! We got our first horse as a family when I was in kindergarten and the rest was history and I haven’t been without a horse in my life since.
I grew up taking riding lessons and competing in many disciplines. I dabbled back and forth between English and Western riding growing up. I was active in Pony Club; I loved dressage, jumping, and eventing. While I was riding English, I was also working with a top level western pleasure horse trainer. All of this provided a really wide range of knowledge and a diverse foundation for my horsemanship. I enjoyed competing and having a show schedule through my grade school years, but after graduating high school, I no longer had an urge to compete.
I wanted to get out of the arena and into the mountains that I had been hiking and backpacking in. After high school, I took a job in Montana guiding trail rides at a dude ranch and spent my days off at nearby Glacier National Park hiking. After my summer trail riding, I went on a 2 day pack trip to deliver hay for the forest service, after two days of rain, snow, high winds and 4′ snow drifts at the top of narrow pass, I knew this was something I needed to get to be able to do on my own with my horses.
For the next few years, I was back to hiking and backpacking, my horse rides were limited to where I could ride to get to a trailhead or if I could bum a ride with someone. I used to ride over I-90 on an overpass just outside of Ellensburg, WA just to ride the John Wayne trail for the day!
As life moved forward, I collected gear: a set of saddlebags from an antique store here, a new jetboil there, a single person backpacking tent and a used summer weight down sleeping bag scored from a used backpacking group all items that I could stuff into saddle bags and overnight with my one horse with.
Even today, we are always slowly adding to and upgrading our gear! When Landon and I started dating, he was the adventure partner I needed to get into the backcountry with horses. Our first “date” we camped with horses at a trailhead and rode for the day. We started with just trail riding together and in 2017 we did our first overnight on the trail with horses. We rode to a lake together with all the gear shoved into our saddlebags, camped for the night, and rode out the next day. Ever since that day, everything we do is to better prepare ourselves for our next trips.
We’ve adopted mustangs and purchased additional horses to use as pack and riding horses in the back country, we condition the horses for the summer every chance we get, I learned to tie packs on, we snagged used pack saddles to train the babies with, scrimped and saved to upgrade our tent, pack boxes, sleeping bags and save year round to afford to shoe our horses and be gone in the back country together.
What does the phrase “Follow Your Dreams” mean to you? And what advice would you give others?
B: Follow your dreams means just that! It’s important to have goals and steps to get there. Sometimes we have to ask for help to get where we need to go, sometimes we have to make really difficult choices, hard sacrifices and hard work. You are in control of your future. You can learn something from everyone you come across. Sometimes you’re just learning what not to do.
You’ve got a farm with lots of animals and you have your own business, all at a young age. What do you attribute a lot of your success to?
B: The life that I have built is a life built on intention and purpose. There’s been mistakes along the way, rough spots and things my parents don’t approve of (they both wish I would’ve gone back to college and got a degree).
Being frugal where I can and working hard for the life you want is how to get there. I worked hard because I had to. There was a time in my life where I lived in a trailer with no running water and worked 3 jobs to afford to keep my horse. I refused to give up on that dream and sell him, even though it would’ve simplified life.
Sometimes you work jobs you hate to be able to afford what you want. I’ve worked at call centers, grocery stores, restaurants, in home CNA care, and working in an emergency room doing insurance. From the very beginning of when I started working I knew I hated working for large corporations, I hated dumb company policies and rules made by people who never worked the position; I hated being told I got 2 days off a year and I hated working hard and getting a star by name and more responsibilities as my only recognition.
I started my business, originally Blue Dog Design, in 2015 it was started as an outlet for painting and a way to pay for my horse feed bill and put fuel in my tank so I could go hiking. I liked the idea of running my business. I never would have believed that Blue Dog Design would evolve into LB Arrow Cinch Co. and all that has come with that. I painted skulls, enamel mugs and wineglasses to begin with and gave them away as gifts and had an Etsy store.
Through the years my job changed, where I lived changed, and where I bought my cups for my painting changed. But one thing did not. I loved creating and running this small business of mine. During my horsemanship journey, I eventually learned about mohair cinches and the benefits of mohair began learning how to make the best quality cinches and breast collars that I could. After a lot of trial and error, cinches were finally something I could confidently offer to my customers and expand my business with, and I love every aspect. I love making gear for horses and riders. I love seeing customer photos with their beautiful tack and their gorgeous horses. I love hearing everyone’s stories and I know I have made the right choice.
Who has had the biggest influence on you regarding horsemanship?
B: I don’t think any ONE specific person has had a bigger influence on me, more styles of training, all of my horses are trained to be as respectful on the ground as they are under saddle, and my dressage influence is prevalent in how I teach my horses to carry themselves. I grew up taking riding lessons from a variety of dressage instructors and western pleasure trainers and watched everything I could get my hands on related to horse training and colt starting. So perhaps RFD TV has had the biggest influence!
If someone wanted to start packing with horses. What advice would you have?
B: There are two major areas you need to be confident, comfortable and skilled in to be ready to start packing horses.The first is horses. Your horses need to have a solid foundation, not be afraid of ropes, safe to ride and handle on foot and be accepting of packing and all that it entails.
You yourself should make sure your horses gear fits, you know basic equine first aid, you should be a confident intermediate rider who can balance on a horse through a variety of terrains and have the ability to handle your riding horse and a pack horse and the skill set to set your horses up for success and handle any emergencies.
The second is you need to be comfortable and safe in the backcountry. You need to know how to read a map, use a compass, have survival skills and be prepared for the worst. You need to be able to route plan, determine if trails are appropriate for you and your animals skill sets. Know what kind of wild animals you may run into and how to keep a clean camp, leave no trace and take care of our wild places!
There are many ways to acquire these skills, local backcountry horsemanship chapters, REI has classes, and lots of outfitters offer classes as well as lots of books have good info. In fact, I learned to tie my panniers on from a book!
What is one of the most common questions you get asked by your followers?
B: “Where is this?” My typical answer is, “Public Land”. I don’t disclose any of the locations we ride at for multiple reasons. One reason is that disclosing locations where a pretty picture or video is taken on the internet opens it up to be inundated by people who may or may not take care of that place, and often these trails are not set up or able to handle the onslaught of social media frenzied hikers. Another reason is I find all of our trails through careful research. I know what my horses and I are capable of handling and I don’t want anyone trying to go somewhere that they have no business being. If you can’t find the trail on your own, it is likely not a safe trail for you. It’s our duty to protect all of our wild spaces. We pack out all trash we come across, not everyone comes to the wilderness with good intentions.
You take a lot of stunning pictures. I’ve heard you say photography has less to do with equipment and more to do with light. What other tips do you have for aspiring photographers?
B: Your biggest advantage is to know your equipment and how to use it. The more familiar you are and the more you practice shooting at different times of day, the more your photography will grow. People are not able to tell which photos were taken with the camera I bought for $300 or $1500.
Your mohair tack is really beautiful. Where do you draw a lot of your inspiration from for your designs and colors?
B: A lot of inspiration comes from the wild places that I love and trying to compliment the natural beauty of the horse. A lot of the tack that I design follows more natural and muted tones with turquoise and teal highlights. I have my wonderful customers to thank for consistently inspiring me with their color combinations that I would never think to put together on my own and they are stunning!
On your website, you claim mohair is comfortable for the horse, but also durable. How does it differ from leather tack?
B: Mohair is a wonderful material to work with, unlike wool it doesn’t stretch. Mohair is actually hair, and it comes from Angora goats. Just like your hair, it has a little elasticity to it, but it does not stretch or warp and when you twist enough strands of it into a rope or a braid, it makes a very strong cord for tying cinches!
My preference for tack is tack that is well made, fits the horse and is made of natural materials. That means leather and rawhide headstalls, horse hair reins, leather back cinches, latigos and off straps, and for us, mohair cinches and mohair breast collars. No nylon, no neoprene.
Every material is going to have benefits and drawbacks. Leather is durable but also requires care, like being regularly conditioned to prevent cracks and drying out and will also mold depending on your climate and storage for your tack. Leather can break under pressure if it’s not regularly cared for and if it’s not properly fitted or well made, it can cause galling and create sores or if it’s not adjusted properly, it can cause rubbing.
I stress the importance of high quality, well-fitting tack. A mohair cinch that is not tied properly can cause more issues than a neoprene cinch. A piece of tack that isn’t cared for properly will not last as long as one that is!
What is one of the most important things horses have taught you?
B: Patience and controlling my emotions, two things I do not come by naturally, but you must have in check to be successful working with horses in any capacity.
A huge thank you to Brie Albright for doing this interview. If you’d like to learn more about her or make an order from her online tack shop, please use the links listed below.
Follow Brie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loki_toki/
Follow LBArrow Cinch Co. on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lbarrowcinchco/
LBArrow Cinch Co. Website: https://lbarrowcinchco.com/shop
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