Life in a barn can be somewhat disorganized from time to time. Goodness knows that half the time, I forget something and leave it scattered in the far corners of the aisles. Thank goodness for friends who collect up all your “fiddly bits,” and put them back where you can find them.
So to help my friends know which of those various pieces of tack and equipment are mine, lest I lose them permanently, I have taken to marking things. Maybe it’s a bit OCD of me. But if I spent good money on something, then odds are I’d like to keep up with it. To do so, there are a few basic ways to do that:
- Writing with a Sharpie or other permanent marker — It’s an inexpensive solution, but it can look a bit too amateurish, even for an amateur equestrian. And between rain, sweat (both the human and horse varieties), fly sprays, grooming products, and the myriad of other stuff we all use daily, even permanent markers can fade away to illegible.
- Labels from a self-adhesive label printer — I’m thinking of the Brother P-Touch labeler, but any one will do. It’s more professional looking than a mere marker, but sometimes these don’t last too long in the elements.
- Metal tags — These are made of stainless steel or brass, and attach with an S-hook or a split-ring. They are also professional looking. But they will only go on certain things, like bridles and saddles, that have a spot to hang the tag on. Sometimes the split rings (in particular) get over-stressed when you put them on, and then break unexpectedly, thus losing your treasured tag. But replacement split rings are available at the hardware store for cheap. They’re usually near the key cutting machine.
- Colored electrical tape — Items like whips just don’t have a place to hang a tag. So we often use the eventer’s trick of using a little bit of colored electrical tape to show your ownership. We use orange. It’s distinctive, unmistakable, and hard to miss. And it goes on a whip better than the other options.
- Embroidery — This is the ultimate way to mark your horse goods, where it works. It’s professional looking, colorful, and permanent. And I mean really permanent! It won’t rub off like a marker can. If you’re thinking about embroidering something, have some fun! Show your artistic side with your choices, both in image, and in color.
Feeling stumped in the creativity department? So was I! So I started talking to a local embroiderer who sews in one of our area tack shops. Patricia Dane is very familiar with horses, extremely creative, and happy to brainstorm with you to make what you want. She does work for a host of rescues and OTTB groups.
So we started talking — about the horse, about what kind of riding we do, about what use the item would be for (fun, competition, etc.). She had samples for us to look at, and make tweaks from. She could show us what the design would actually look like.
What has happened from those conversations has been nothing less than magic, both for us, and for others. Here are some of the fun designs that have been created with Patricia that now reside in our barn and elsewhere…
Kazumi (owned by Deysha Rivera) — Kazumi’s name is Japanese. She’s a thoroughbred mare with a dressage background, and a very refined presence. So when a student approached Patricia about a saddle pad holiday gift, she conveyed these characteristics. Patricia came up with the rest. It’s part of a larger horse design, along with Kazumi’s name in Kanji (traditional Japanese characters). The red came from the Japanese connection, and the black came from dressage’s color preference. The logo has has since been borrowed to make a baseball hat. Now all Kazumi’s leasers all want to get hats made to show they are part of Team Kazumi.
Trumbull (owned by Leah Berry) — Trumbull is a larger-than-life 17 hand OTTB. He announces his presence with authority in a lot of ways, and he definitely only has eyes for Leah. So when she went to embroider Trumbull’s initial on his exercise sheet, she wanted something that really stood out and made a statement. I think it does! Just like Trumbull.
Charlie Brown (owned by my daughter and me) — Charlie’s logo was created by friends getting special presents for our Bridle Shower. Now we use it on everything! We chose orange for several reasons: First, Charlie is part Friesian, which is a Dutch breed. Also, our last name is Dutch. And the national color of Holland is orange. Plus, it added a nice pop of color on our dark bay horse.
Tank — Tank is my favorite school horse. And with a name like that, your embroidery should be as straightforward and uncomplicated as you are. So it is in basic blue and silvery gray. But truth be told, he’s a little bit of a drama queen. Kinda blows that whole uncomplicated thing out of the water. <sigh>
Our barn logo — Hopefully our school horses will all start getting this put on their saddle pads. And Patricia has digitized the design so it can be re-ordered again and again.
When you get things embroidered for your horse, be aware of a couple of issues:
- Your Initials or Your Horse’s Name? — On things I wear or use, like the garment bag for my show clothes, I prefer to put my own monogram. On things my horse wears, like blankets and sheets, I put his logo. While those are just my personal preferences, think about what your preferences are before you start embroidering lots of things.
- Saddle Pads — Since saddle pads are easily mixed up, and hard to tell apart, I like to keep my saddle pads embroidered. This helps me keep track of them, wherever they may roam. If it’s a competition saddle pad, check the rules for the show you are entering to make sure your embroidery conforms to requirements.
- Rain Sheets — Be careful that your embroidery doesn’t damage the integrity of the rain sheet. If the design goes on the horse’s back, the holes created by the stitching will also cause the sheet to leak, defeating its purpose. Instead, try to keep things to the lower hem of the sheet, or in the front where the sheet closes across the horse’s chest.
- Blankets, Coolers, and Quarter Sheets — Here you have the greatest leeway on placement and size. If you’re embroidering a blanket that is particularly thick in a certain place, you’ll probably want to move your image to a different spot where it’s easier for the needle to get through the fabric.
- Polos — If you choose to embroider your polo wraps, you’ll need to choose something that is relatively small so it fits, and so it shows when the wrap is on. You will also need to mark the opposite end of the wrap so your finished wrap gives you a right-side-up monogram or symbol. Use a small and unobtrusive marker so it doesn’t hurt when wrapped immediately next to your horse’s legs. And practice wrapping with them so your design shows up in a consistent place on the horse’s legs.
Have fun with your embroidery! And let us see what your stitching looks like…
If you’re in the DC area, she can be found frequently at the BEST Horse Shows at the PG Equestrian Center, with her sewing machine in tow.