Competitions are exciting, and with a whole lot to remember and do before your horse puts one hoof on the lorry, they can also be overwhelming. But fear not, we are here to help you get all your competition kit in order so all you need to do is focus on giving your best performance yet. Here are our top tips for preparing your equestrian kit for competition.
Make a list
It seems so obvious, but getting yourself a proper list is a game changer. Sit down when you’re not meant to be doing anything else and go through the whole day in your head, thinking about each element of the day and what you and your horse need. For example…
On the lorry – going
- Travel boots
- Tail bandage
- Tail bag
- Lead rope
- Travel rug
- Printed off directions
- Postcode for sat nav
- Contact numbers for organisers
- Copy of relevant dressage tests
- Water bucket
- …and so the list goes on
The great thing is that if you do a really good job of this once, you can just print it off over and over again and then you can feel a lot more confident that nothing important will be left at home!
Now, find all the kit on your lists!
Even though travel boots are really important when it comes to travelling a horse, they’re less important the rest of year, so they might not be in the best of condition! Find them and, if needed, give them a wash long before the show. They may have been put back in perfect condition, but if they’ve sat for a while and got a little dusty/played host to a small army of spiders, it’s nice to give them a wash before you put them on your horse.
If you find your boots, bandages and even travel rug needs a bit of TLC, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing. If you do opt for the machine option and you want to keep hair and everything else ‘horse’ to a minimum in your machine’s filters, we really rate the Horsewear Wash-Bag definitely check it out.
You might have specific tack you use for ‘best’, or infrequently, such as a best bridle, or maybe a different noseband or breastplate for cross country. It’s worth giving everything a really good clean when you have the time – even if you’re planning to use it again before you compete. This means that you’ll only need to give tack a quick wipe over if you’re short of time vs. stripping the bridle down to all its component pieces as you’ll have got all the grease and grime off previously.
We’ve got an extensive range of leather care here- whether you’re looking to deep clean your tack or give it a quick wipe. Click here to explore our range.
It’s also a good opportunity to check for any loose/missing stitching or signs of weakness in the leather too.
Saddlecloths and boots
Depending on what you use for the show or event, you might need to give these a scrub, a wash, or even repair/renew based on what happened last season!
White saddlecloths can look grubby without too much effort, so either wash them by hand or opt for a washing machine.
When it comes to boots, these can usually be washed quite easily and effectively by hand or, if the fabric allows, in a machine… but make sure you attach the straps to other straps/their fastening to prevent them from sticking to everything else in the machine. Also, use this as an opportunity to clean any fluff from hook and loop style fastenings and check the stitching on straps and pads. We love Equilibrium’s Hook Cleaner for this.
You need to check your ‘kit’ too
As per your horse’s show equipment, it’s also worth getting all your kit out before you need it.
If it’s been a while since you competed last, definitely consider trying on all breeches, shirts and jackets before the big day to make sure everything still fits you as you’d like it to. Seek out your accessories too- not being able to find a hair net or a stock pin when you’re frantically trying to get ready before you leave is not going to create a calm situation
You might want to invest in some luggage created for riding boots, jackets, hats and more. All these pieces are designed to protect clothing and apparel and keep it clean, but it also make it a LOT easier to move around from house to car to yard to lorry! We love the Aubrion range from Shires – which you can find here.
If you need new kit, then give yourself plenty of time. If you can, go to the shop and try on different breeches, jackets and boots to get the ones that fit you the best and make you feel ready for anything. With so many different colours, shapes and everything else to choose from, it can be a really good idea to make the journey so you can get to see how everything looks and feels.
Hats and safety equipment
It’s important that your hat and body protector are in good condition and up to standard for day to day riding, but use the start of the show season as a good reason to have a proper review. How old is it? Has it been dropped/been fallen on? Is it up to the standard needed for competition? Does it still fit nicely?
If you need a new hat, this is another time a trip to a shop, with a great range of hats and people BETA trained to fit hats is a good idea. Although you might know what size you are, some people fit particular makes of hat a better fit than others, and being uncomfortable in your riding hat will could leave you in discomfort, which is certainly not the idea. The same applies with body protectors. When these fit correctly, they can help to reduce the severity of an injury with no discomfort during day to day riding. If they are ill-fitting, you’re less likely to wear them if you don’t have to, and will hate every moment when you do. So it’s a good reason to invest a little time here.
Write a list of your emergency contacts including your vet and farrier. If you need to get hold of anyone in a hurry, you don’t need to search through your phone in a panic. Or tell someone else what you’ve stored them under. Stick it in your lorry/trailer so everyone who might need it can find it.
Now all you need to do is have fun! Let us know how you get on and don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @rbequestrian when you’re out and about in your RB Equestrian kit!