Our fall competition season is in full swing, and once again, I am immersed in the excitement of show life. Over my ten plus years of competing, I’ve sifted through various items in my tack box, finding what works, what I certainly don’t need to be hauling around, and what I simply can’t function without. Which brings me here, sharing with you my 5 small but mighty horse show necessities that I always keep within my horse show arsenal.
1. Seam Ripper
In my opinion, a seam ripper is the BEST tool for un-braiding manes, especially if your horse’s braids are sewn in using yarn. The smaller the tool, the better, because it is easy to accidentally take chunks of hair out when using something bigger, such as scissors. I may or may not be speaking from experience… I’ve used my seam ripper for years now, and you can pick one up at your local drug/grocery store for under $3.00. It makes life much easier, especially on the final day of competition when we’re all usually quite tired.
2. Nunn Finer Tack Up Grip Spray
Tack Up Grip Spray is a highly under utilized product. However, I actually don’t use it to spray the seat of my saddle, much to the contrary. Instead, I spray my reins and my hands once I have put my gloves on, right before heading over to the warm-up arena. Humidity in South Texas is a serious issue, which inevitably makes my leather reins sweat, especially if I have cleaned or conditioned them the night before. Sweaty reins mean ultimate slippage through my fingers, regardless of how securely I’m holding onto them. The Tack Up Grip Spray has been a solution to this dreaded issue, and I won’t be traveling to competitions without it.
3. Extra Test Book
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that you can never have too many test books laying around your tack stall. Whether you’re using the book to study or you need a caller for your ride, always keep one handy in the times of commotion. You never want to show up late to the ring because you couldn’t find what you’re looking for at the stalls. The United States Dressage Federation’s “Member Guide” lives in my show box, because the booklet actually contains the national and FEI tests. And, well, the booklet is free if you’re a member of USDF, so you won’t have to spend extra dollars on a specific test book. Three cheers!
4. Towels & Rags
Okay, this is a pretty generic item, but you never know how badly you need an extra rag until you’re crunched for time and need to wipe out your horse’s nostrils. I actually have a tote bag specifically dedicated to rags, towels, and old socks (yes, old socks make the perfect tack cleaning cloth), that travels to all the horse shows with me. Just think of all the things we actually use rags for! From last minute boot shining, to whisking away sweat, dirt, or grime, to putting the finishing touches on your saddle cleaning procedure, rags are a serious necessity.
Surprisingly enough, apples serve more purpose than just a reward for your equine partner after a solid test or two. We always travel with apples because they can be an important aid that encourages your horse to drink water. Just like us humans can be picky about what we like to drink, horses can easily turn their noses up at water that tastes differently than what they are used to at home. For example, just last weekend, one of our horses at the show began to slow down on water intake. His rider chopped up a few apples, popped them into his buckets, and sure enough, he began to suckle down water, while simultaneously trying to eat the sweet treat. As we look ahead to the longer competitions, such as Regional Championships next month, it’s important to remember this tip because few things are more important than making sure your horse is properly hydrated.
My horse show necessities extend more than just these five, but as I mentioned before, they are all mighty in their own way. Perhaps you’ll feel so inclined to acquire a few of the items I have mentioned, and if you do, then hopefully you’ll feel the same way!
Happy showing, everyone!