It's that time of year again where the nights are getting lighter, the days longer and the horses finally get to go out on the field. Of course, this does come with its consequences- missing shoes, ripped rugs and very mucky horses! In this blog, i will be talking you through how I prepare to go to a show shortly after bringing in my horses in from the field.
The first thing i do when i bring them back in is to take their rugs off and check for any lumps, bumps or grazes they may have obtained when out in the field. Then, if all is clear, I move onto grooming.
I find the HAAS brushes to be an absolute lifesaver when i have a mucky horse, i can rest assured that they will finish with a gleaming clean coat and will no longer resemble that of a hippo! I also ensure that their hooves are picked out and if the field has been particularly muddy that day, I wash their legs before hand drying them with a towel (make sure to wear a hat when doing this!).
Once clean, I prepare my horses for a journey in the horsebox. This involves using travel boots or bandages to protect the horses legs from any knocks, a tail guard or bandages to keep the dock area protected from rubbing, a lightweight fleece rug or cooler (with an additional surcingle if required) to keep the horse warm yet ventilated and finally, ensure that they are tied up with a quick release knot and a leather headcollar which is safer as it would snap if the horse were to panic.
I always ensure that my horses travel with plenty of haylage to keep them occupied throughout the journey and to ensure that their stomach is not empty, as this can cause a build up of stomach acid, which is not only uncomfortable but can also lead to problems such as stomach ulcers and colic. Water is also an absolute must wherever you go to keep you horses hydrated, particularly if they have been doing strenuous work. An adult horse consists of approximately 70% water and even as little as 2% dehydration can have a negative effect on your horses performance. Electrolytes can also be added to counteract any losses through sweating and a loss of electrolytes can affect muscle function. If your horse is particularly fussy about drinking at a show, apple juice or a little sugar beet water will often encourage your horse to drink.
As it turns out, cleaning tack is not just about preserving equipment and respecting your horse and yourself, a horses skin is its largest organ representing 12%-14% of its total weight. Skin is a protection barrier against viral, fungal and bacterial attacks. Dirty tack can play a role in infecting horses and can cause skin conditions that can be very difficult to deal with. It also gives you the opportunity to check for any damage or repairs that are needed for your equipment. Needless to say, dirty tack would be quite uncomfortable to you and your horse too!
Once at the show, ensure that you give both yourself and you horse plenty of time before your class or event to allow you both to be settled and relaxed in what could be an unfamiliar environment. A good warm-up in essential to a positive, successful ride and most importantly- don't forget to enjoy yourself!
By following these steps you have a happy, healthy steed who is willing to perform with their all, whether from a happy hacker to a competition horse. I hope you've enjoyed this blog post, see you again next month!