The equipped equestrian
Whether it is a special toy box or your grandmother’s hope chest, a place to keep important things has always been a treasure.
People with horses have a habit of collecting all manner of things for their horses and themselves, but more importantly, some of these objects are absolutely necessary for the horse owner and rider. Keeping them together in an organized fashion is made much easier by having a tack box or trunk.
With a stable, this gathering of equipment becomes a tack room. For the dedicated horseman, it’s a larger home for harnesses, carriages, saddles, bridles, training gear, bit collections, protective boots and pads – then everything from clippers to an extensive first-aid kit. For the novice, it can be a simple tote to carry some brushes and important gear.
It’s a little bit like the needs of your first home and garden – the list just keeps growing! The basics include grooming equipment: a currycomb, brushes of varied stiffness, a mane comb, a hoof pick, sponges and a wash bucket.
For feeding, you will need cutters to open hay bales, perhaps hay hooks to move hay easily, a water tub and a feed bucket for grain or pelleted feed. Safe storage for all your hay and grain is vital, and it must be kept dry and out of the horse’s reach.
The horse will need a properly fitting halter and lead rope, a bridle with a suitable bit and reins, a saddle comfortable for both horse and rider, saddle pad and possibly a breast collar to keep the saddle in place.
Leather goods need care to remain supple, safe and clean. Glycerin saddle soap, Murphy’s Oil Soap and countless conditioners and leather preservatives are available and should be used regularly.
We all know that a good home first-aid kit can be invaluable, and the same goes for a veterinary supply kit. If you are to properly care for your horse, or need to do emergency first aid while waiting for the veterinarian to arrive, this is an important item for your tack box. A thermometer, antibacterial wound-cleansing solution, antibiotic ointment and bandaging items are available over the counter. Fly repellents, shampoo, wound salves, hoof conditioners and leg liniments are also essential.
The U.S. Eventing Association prints an “event checklist” in its omnibus. It includes more than 200 items for the horse and rider competing in an overnight event! The group categorizes shipping, feed, stable management, grooming, braiding, tack, bandaging, medical kit, horse clothes, hoof care, rider’s items, travel and “upon arrival” needs.
Obviously, the beginner or at-home recreational rider will not require such extensive supplies, but it is important that acquired items be kept in a clean and organized fashion.
A Rubbermaid-type large box with a tight-fitting lid is all right for a starter. More permanent show-type trunks can be made to order or purchased through tack shops. If you are in a public stable, it is wise to have your box locked when you are not there. All your horse equipment should be identified with an indelible pen or other marker.
The box should contain compartments. Large show trunks can hold an English saddle, bridle and all the necessary things for a horse and rider except feed. The rider’s gloves, spurs, riding crops and helmet are usually kept in a personal trunk. In addition, clean horse blankets, leg bandages (used for support as well as injuries) and special vitamin supplements have a home. Items such as clippers and extra blades, wash, braiding supplies, extension cords, hardware for hanging buckets at shows, a hammer, perhaps extra horseshoes, nails and equipment can be kept safe, dry and clean.
When visiting a top-flight horse show, you can get an idea of how impressive a tack box can look. But don’t be put off by having to make a major investment. It’s like buying an automobile: Having a new Cadillac is wonderful, but a used Chevrolet will get you to the same destination. It’s what’s inside the box that counts.
Felicia Schaps Tracy is a Certified Horsemanship Association advanced-level certified instructor, an American Riding Association certified instructor, was a founding instructor for the Northern Mines Pony Club, and lead the horsemanship program at Ojai Valley School. Write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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