Tack and Other EquipmentYou've now managed to buy all those absolutely essential bits of equipment - like sponges! - that are so vital to your enjoyment of the sport, so what more can there be?
Some horses, especially the thin-skinned Arabs, seem to show an allergic reaction to leather, particularly around their ears and cheeks. We've all experienced that annoying "habit" of theirs where they insist on rubbing themselves against you whenever they get a chance, but it's merely a skin irritation caused by the leather and sweat production - I've been on a horse that'll stop in mid canter to rub his face, it was so bad. A good quality webbing bridle will help alleviate the problem somewhat, although not entirely, as face itchies go with the terrain - see how uncomfortable you get when you're all sweaty! They serve the dual purpose of converting to a halter by simply unbuckling the bit, thereby alleviating the problem of trying to get a halter on your horse when back at base camp.
We spoke about saddle sores and girth galls in the previous article, so to get over the way the girth rubs against the soft skin at the elbow - the most probable site for girth galls - invest in a sheepskin girth cover. They wrap around the girth and close with velcro for ease of fitting. Keep a spare handy for when one is in the wash. For my saddle, I halved a regular sized cover as it was stitched in the middle, giving me two for the price of one. I must add though, my girth is half the length of a normal girth, so you can't do it for a regular length girth.
When riding in bright sunshine or when it hasn't rained for a while and there's lots of dust about, invest in a pair of wrap-around sunglasses made of hardwearing plastic. I know they can look ugly, but you'll be using them only when riding and you'll be in good company where nobody cares what you look like, anyway.
Keep a fold-up hoof pick in your waist bag in case you need to lever out a stone when out on the trail. The straight ones tend to poke your hand when you're reaching for your water bottle.
One of the best investments I made, was purchasing different lengths and thicknesses of braided yacht rope - 1 x 4m, 1 x 8m and 1 x 12m. The short one is a comfortable thickness for my hand and that one I use as a normal lead - try grooming your horse holding on to a 1m lead! The other two are a bit thicker and I use them for letting my horse graze while tied. He can step on the rope without breaking it and it has a bit of stretch in it. Get a safety catch for each rope although you can tie the rope directly onto the halter, but that'll mean undoing the knot every time you want to swop the rope.
Print and laminate a few cards with the following info : Name and surname; Contact number; ID No; Home address; Medical aid name and number; Doctor's name and number; Blood group; Allergies; Chronic Diseases & Treatment; at least 3 contact names with work, home and cell numbers; your vehicle details like make, colour and registration number. Keep one in your waist bag, one on your saddle and one in your vehicle. The one you keep on yourself is so that if you are thrown and are unconscious, all your relevant info is on you. The one on your saddle is so that if you're separated from your horse, whoever finds your horse will be able to contact you. If you don't get back from a ride, the one in your vehicle will provide all the information about you. I've seen a wristband made by Joy Ride which contains a similar, waterproof piece of paper - I can't recall the exact contents of the piece of paper - but it's worth investigating.
In the next article: The dangers of humidity; over cooling the horse; tying up and thumps; riding a stallion.
References: Susan Garlinghouse; Nancy S Loving; Lew Hollander