Staying away with horses – what to pack!


First…A quick update

What a few busy months I’ve had with the horses, staying away at Hartpury Petplan Championships, Sheepgate Area Festivals and then the most recent Senior Home International at Vale View. Next up we will be heading to Arena UK in October to compete in 3 classes at the Petplan Area Festival Championships on Swatch. Sadly, for our precious Wanda, no championship classes this time. She ran so well at areas but was just piped every time. It’s a shame as she really excels at the big competitions and loves a stay away!

We found out this week Swatch has been awarded a wildcard to compete in his music section at the Petplan Championships. This is quite exciting for us as his new music was premiered at the Sheepgate Area Festival (risky move eh?) and I had only had a full run through 2 days before. Living with a music producer, I thought I would utilise his skills and get hi to write me a piece of music from scratch. He has since informed me it’s been one of the hardest jobs he’s ever done! I was lucky to work with judge Kim Ratcliffe who helped me develop a really strong floorplan, utilising Swatchy’s strong pace – his canter – as a starting point. It’s a fantastic floorplan to ride and with a few tweaks to the music we will be ready to go for the nationals. We really can’t wait to have a dance again!

Watermill rocks at the SHI Photo credit Kevin Sparrow

With all this staying away, it got me thinking about the kit that I wouldn’t travel without and what is the most useful kit to take if you are new to staying away. Obviously, this depends on your transport, and if you are staying in a full up luxe truck or a trailer… but here are some essentials that I could be without when I stay away with the horses…

The Trusty Trolley

This is a life saviour! I have a folding trolley that I brought pre-Hartpury champs as I’ve been suffering with a frozen shoulder and didn’t want to carry things too far (as it bloody hurt). I got my trolley from Amazon but all sorts of camping or festival kit places will sell them. Mine is a rather cool urban cammo that matches the truck…matchy! I use it to move tack, feed, haylage, grooming stuff… It’s just massively labour saving and stops your kit getting muddy if its wet. The whole thing folds flat and fits into the back of the truck. I even use it at home to move hat, boots, tack and grooming kit about. Just buy one and save a load of effort!

Buy one here

LED torch

Temporary stables are unlikely to have interior lighting. Try plating at 6am… just by feel. I got this great hanging LED torch from a local garage, but they are available online too. Its also magnetic on the back so you can stick it on the metal bars of the stable. Great for night checks, powerful, functional… it makes my essential kit list!

Buy one here

Bailer twine, tarpaulin, gaffer tape, scissors

Bailer wine to make tie up loops and simple rug racks if you don’t have a fancy one (on the outside of your stable so your horse doesn’t get hooked up in it)… it can be used to fix everything as we all know. So, shove some in a box of useful bits that stay on the truck. N this box I also have a flat head and star head screwdriver (useful when my tack locker jammed at Sheepgate and we needed to prize it open!), scissors and gaffer tape – which like bailer twine can fix everything! I also have a small 2m x3m thick tarp in the truck. I’ve used this in the back of the lorry as a clean flooring, to fix leaky stables and at one international to prevent the stable flooding. Check it on the floor outside to sit on when you clean tack… its just useful right?

Stable curtains

Wanda admiring her stable furnishings!

For horses that like privacy and can get stressed these are a real gamechanger in temporary stables. They can also keep the stable dry when rain is torrential… However, when its hot they can restrict air flow so judge what you think its best for your horse. You can use them to keep your it dry (just tie them at the top of the stable and pull them out and over your kit at the bottom). A one-off investment and practical, not just pretty!

Trackie bottoms

You don’t want to do a dash to the stables in your PJ’s to feed your horse at 5am… The horse who has decided to wake up everyone by banging (yes that was Swatch). Ok, so maybe you don’t care but when its cold, you could be hungover or just bleary eyed then pack the kind of clothes you can pull on while half asleep and in the dark … That simple really! Note – showers are sometimes amazing and sometimes grim… pack flipflops / sliders and clothes you can pull on while balancing on one foot like you did when you got changed after swimming in year 5.

Feed

Feed is an essential for your horse, but my top tip is to mix up all the feeds your horse will need during the stay plus a couple of spares. Mix it up in a big feed sack with their supplements included, then it’s a case of portioning it out as you need it and topping it up with your wet mix. I have switched my feed to Saracen now and have been using their Re-Covery mash for some time. It’s a great feed for traveling and ideal for horses like Wanda who tend not to drink much when they are away. Essentially you want to make things as easy as you can when staying away and I find this really helps. As a note I always take more than enough feed than I need just in case of delays, breakdowns, or just the fact that my horse needs a little more when competing away.

Find out more about Saracen Re-Covery mash here

So, there you go… my top tips…. You can see a theme coming here… rain, leaky stables, fixing things… and I sound like a bit of a good girl guide with my bits of string and tarps. But honestly these bits of kit have got me out of some tricky situations… Staying away with the horses is great, I really love spending the extra time with them, but I also like to make it easy. When the competition pressure is on you don’t need anything to worry about so getting a bit ahead of the game is always a winning strategy!

Trotting up with Swatchy . Photo credit Kevin Sparrow

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