Saturday, November 22, 2014

Turnout Critique #16

This installment of Turnout Critique features a lovely rider and her grey horse who present an excellent example of good show ring turnout.

Photo used with photographer's permission
Grey horses present an extra challenge for good turnout because their hair stains so easily and is difficult to keep white enough not to look yellow in comparison to white saddle pads and clothing. This horse has been very thoroughly bathed and shows no yellow spots anywhere, not even on the more easily-stained parts of the body such as the legs (there is some reflection of the footing colour on his underside, which just gives the illusion of dirty patches). I suspect that if we could see the tail, the sections that aren't dark hair would be as white as possible, too. This indicates a dedication to frequent bathings to keep such stains from setting.

The mane is neatly braided in the appropriate hunter style, though the contrast between the light body and the dark mane allow us to see that some of the braids have been rubbed slightly. If this horse tends to be a braid rubber, keeping a slinky neck cover on until it's time to tack up could help to reduce the number of damaged braids. 

The tack all appears to be perfectly clean, and the bridle demonstrates proper adjustment; the noseband is set high enough to flatter this horse's face, while the throatlatch is the right length to do its job without being so short that it tightens against the throat, or so long that it swings forward under the cheeks. A D-ring bit such as this one is always an attractive option for a hunter.

I can't tell whether the marks in front of the girth are this horse's colouring or the result of girth rubs. If they are the latter, I would suggest using a girth cover between shows to help prevent them from developing.

The clean saddle pad is nicely chosen to suit the size and shape of the saddle flaps, with the maximum two inches of pad showing evenly all the way around. The excess stirrup leather is slightly longer than I would prefer to see it; ideally it would be three or four inches shorter, or tucked back under the saddle flap.

The hooves are oiled nicely to look clean and tidy, while also showing off how clean the white legs are. This horse has been neatly trimmed, both on the face and the legs, and he and his rider have both obviously been wiped down with a towel before going into the ring to remove any last-minute slobber or warm-up ring dust.

This rider is neatly and conservatively dressed in the appropriate manner for the hunter ring. Her jacket is well-fitted and is the ideal length for her in both the body and the arms. For a more formal occasion I would suggest a darker jacket, but the light grey colour is perfectly appropriate for a regular hunter class. The jacket is accompanied by a classic white show shirt and the appropriate beige breeches with a belt. Her boots are beautifully fitted, coming all the way up to the knee with enough height left over to give lots of flexibility in the ankle area. I would prefer to see more polish to the boots, but it's possible that the lack of shine is due mostly to the cloudiness of the day.

Her clean black gloves and helmet are both very good choices, and her hair is neatly contained in a hairnet in the hunter fashion. I wonder whether this rider's number is tied further above her natural waist than is usual, but the angle of the photo could make the line deceiving.

Overall this rider has done a lovely job of presenting herself and her horse to look their best.

Thank you to this week's featured rider for submitting this photo! Anyone who would like to participate in a future Turnout Critique can send one or more photos to

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quick Equipment Fixes

We all know that most horse-related things can be fixed with the help of baling twine and/or duct tape. This post will cover some additional easy fixes, as well as some uses of duct tape that you might not have considered.

Leaky hose

A horse show can be a very perilous place for hoses. Being repeatedly dragged over rough ground, around corners, and being stepped on by countless horses, many of them wearing studs, is a surefire way for a hose to end up with a puncture.

Punctured hoses have a tendency to spray water all over the barn aisle, or at whoever happens to be using the hose, but replacing each hose every couple of days to avoid these problems is not realistic.

Wrapping the affected part of the hose in duct tape is a tempting solution, but duct tape doesn't tend to stick well to a hose, even when dry, that has been exposed to so much dirt and that is moved so frequently. Inevitably, the duct tape will peel off after only a few uses.

My solution is to wrap the punctured section in Vetrap. This might sound counterintuitive, but the Vetrap sticks to itself rather than to the hose, ensuring that it will stay put (it's still best, however, to put it on while the hose is dry for best stickability). While the Vetrap is porous, it will lessen the amount of water that can escape and most importantly, the water will soak out in a uniform manner rather than spraying everyone and everything at random.

The Vetrap can also be covered in duct tape, overlapping the edges, to further seal in the water, though this top layer will likely require frequent replacement.

Bucket handle safety caps missing

When carting buckets to and from horse shows, it's quite easy for one of the rubbery protective caps on the handle to pop off and go missing. While this might not seem like a big deal, those caps are there for a reason. Your horse's face will come into frequent contact with various parts of the bucket, and the uncovered bottom of the handle is the perfect shape and sharpness to tear an eyelid or a nostril.

Because the caps can go missing from an otherwise perfectly good bucket, it's handy to be able to fix the problem rather than purchase a brand new bucket every time it happens.

My solution is to take a strip of duct tape and tear it in two so that it becomes about half its usual width. When the bucket is completely dry, wrap this strip of duct tape over the top of the loop in the handle so that the end of the wire is completely covered and there is no open gap, as shown in this photo. Leave enough of the loop open for the handle to remain mobile, and this set-up should last indefinitely (the bucket in the photo has been in constant use for at least two or three years with that same piece of duct tape on it).

Trouble filling hay nets

Certain hay nets can be a pain to fill as they want to fold back into themselves. One possible solution, as shown in the video below (credit goes to YouTube user davegg25), is to use a muck bucket or flake-sized Rubbermaid to keep the empty hay net in a more suitable position for filling.

Broken field boot zipper

This isn't a particularly innovative use for duct tape, but it merits mention because it's an excellent reason to keep black duct tape on hand. With black duct tape applied vertically along the back of the boot, a broken zipper becomes virtually unnoticeable from afar, and it is strong enough to hold the two sides of the boot together for an entire ride.

Blanket surcingles coming undone

You can purchase little rubber rings to slip over the base of the T half of a surcingle buckle in order to keep it snug and lessen the chances of it accidentally coming undone. In a pinch, these rings can be substituted with braiding elastics wrapped snugly around the T.