Friday, April 9, 2010

Your Ringside Kit

If you will be paying a professional groom to help you at the horse shows, you don't really have to worry much about what you will need to have ringside. If you are having a friend help you or if you will be grooming for someone else, it's important to prepare a ringside kit to be brought to the warm-up and show rings.

Obviously, what you decide to include in that kit will depend on your own needs and preferences. I will tell you what I like to bring in order to give you some ideas.

You can use whatever container you'd like to pack things in. Small buckets, bags and grooming totes all work well.

Here is a basic list of what you might want to include:
  • A towel or two: This is the item that I use the most and never go to the ring without. The towel provides the finishing touch as the horse is about to enter the ring. First, wipe off the rider's boots to remove any slobber or splashed mud, and then run the towel over the horse to smooth the hair down and remove sweat, slobber and dirt. Be sure to wipe the horse's mouth, too, and bring a large enough towel so that you are always using a clean section.
  • A lead shank: Leather looks best, but anything that looks respectable will do. You can use it to lead a horse to and/or from the show ring, or use it for holding a horse for a course walk. You can lead a horse using the reins, but it's much easier and faster to just clip on with a lead shank, especially when the horse is wearing a running martingale.
  • Treats: A nice reward upon exiting the show ring for a job well done. If you plan on feeding any treats before the class, try to stick to white peppermints or anything else that won't create colourful slobber!
  • A stiff brush: This is very useful on muddy days when there is just too much dirt on the legs for a towel to handle. Brush the mud off and then finish with a towel.
  • Spurs: If you aren't using spurs, you might want to bring a pair along anyway so that they're at the ring if you need them. If you already have spurs on, bringing along a smaller or larger pair can be handy if your warm-up doesn't go as planned.
  • A whip: If you don't start off with one, consider bringing one just in case you need it. Some riders like to have a couple of different sizes available, too.
  • Fly spray: It can come off with sweat so some horses will require a second application. Horses not wearing fly veils might need an extra spray near the ears if the flies are worse than expected by the ring.
  • Hoof oil: Try to do one coat as you're tacking up (the more time it has to dry, the better it will stay on). For the best turnout, especially in the hunter ring, re-apply at the in-gate.
  • Studs: Some riders like to have a stud kit at the ring in case there is an unexpected change in the footing. I, personally, don't like changing studs ringside, but it's something to consider if you do use them often.
  • A spray bottle of water and alcohol: Useful to clean the saddle area of hunters that will have to jog soon after competing.
  • A cooler: Put on the horse after competing on cold days or use it in the warm-up ring to make a spooky practice jump.
  • Any spare tack that you might want to use
Also remember to bring along anything that the rider might need to wear if he or she doesn't leave the stabling area fully dressed up, as well as water on warm days. Check to make sure that the jacket and number are on to avoid having to run back to the barn for them later!

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