We equestrians can sometimes go a little too fast for our own good. There’s always more to do than there is time to do it. So now that we’re at the end of the summer show season, things have probably deteriorated to a level approaching chaos.
We’re so tired after a show that we don’t always clean everything up completely and get it ready for next time immediately upon our arrival home. It’s how our barns turn into federal disaster areas in what feels like a nanosecond. But if we just stayed on top of things as they happen, then life with our horses won’t get so out of control.
Take tack cleaning, for instance. It always needs to be done. But we never seem to have time to do it. Next thing you know, you’ve got mold popping up on your saddle. Then there’s the trailer, and your locker, and the tack room, and the area around your stall, and a thousand other things that we just don’t seem to have time to do.
Personally, I find that if I put things on my calendar or “to do” list, they are much more likely to get done. So as pedantic as it sounds, I actually put on my calendar one maintenance item to be done each Sunday of the month:
- First Sunday — clean and condition the dressage saddle
- Second Sunday — clean and condition the dressage bridle, and wash the dressage saddle pad(s)
- Third Sunday — clean and condition the jumping saddle
- Fourth Sunday — clean and condition the jumping bridle and martingale, and wash the jumping saddle pad(s)
If there’s a fifth Sunday in a month, then I get a break, or I have an extra day to get some of the “extra” barn chores done. Yeah! But this way, my gear is no more than a month from a complete cleaning and conditioning.
Also on that monthly type of schedule, consider:
- Polo Wraps — Have a laundry day and wash all your polo wraps yourself. Be sure to connect the Velcro, use a zipper-topped laundry bag, dry them thoroughly, and re-roll them immediately. I actually join two polo wraps together to form one big circle. That, and the laundry bag, will keep your polos from getting tangled up (too much) in each other, and will keep the Velcro from damaging your wraps. If your horse tends to have fungus on their legs, you may want to consider laundering your polo wraps more often, and using a color safe bleach, possibly as often as each time you use them. If you’re worried about bleach discoloring your wraps, then add a splash of either ammonia or white vinegar to your load of laundry.
- Horse Boots — These could be jumping boots, brushing boots, sports medicine boots, or any of the other varieties of equine leg protection. Start with a small damp towel, and small dry towel to clean the outside of the boots.. Then use a dry stiff brush, a toothbrush, and a damp towel to clean the inside of the boots. Focus on getting the boots super clean, using a toothbrush to get down into the stitching, and all the nooks and crannies. Don’t be afraid of getting the boots wet, but try not to drown them either. Use a copper bristled brush or toothbrush to clear all the lint out of the Velcro closures. Some jumping and cross country boots can simply be run through the washer. Be sure to dry your boots completely before you put them back on your horse. Wet boots cause rubs and are very uncomfortable. Remember, gel linings can take quite some time to dry thoroughly. Leave them out to get some air. Don’t rush it! You don’t want these to mildew. I’ve taken to hanging strips of Velcro in my trailer and in my locker. Then I can stick the clean, wet boots to the Velcro, effectively hanging them to dry.
- Saddle Pads — Start by running a pet hair remover (I use the masking tape variety) over the underside of the saddle pad to get off as much loose hair as possible. Then run the pads through the washer, with a bias toward cooler wash temperatures and air drying where possible. Fix any loose hems each month to avoid a pile of tattered saddle pads, even if that just means dropping them off at the dry cleaners and picking them up promptly a week later.
- Boots and Chaps — Clean and condition your boots and half chaps regularly. Get any worn stitching repaired by a quality shoe repair shop. While you’re at it, replace your boot laces when daylight savings time starts and ends, and skip the broken laces. Also, keep an extra set of boot laces in reserve should disaster strike.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 for more tips and tricks!