We all have different ways for getting ready for competitions. I have tried many methods with varying results, at first i would just get up 5 mins earlier and grab all my stuff and arrive at the competition dishevelled and with approximately 7 mins to warm up. However over time i found this approach very stressful and found that it was affecting my riding because i was getting on the horse flustered and usually i would forget something important like my girth, whip, hat etc which resulted in a few very expensive shows, which luckily had onsite tack shops. However when i decided i like competing and began to go more regularly i realised that i needed to get organised in order to enjoy it more, improve results and lower stress levels. The drive to a competition was always the worst bit for me, as i would spend the journey going over what i had packed and convincing myself i had forgotten something.
Anyhow i decided that what would really help is writing a list of everything i would need, and getting it all ready the night before. It sounds simple, but is so effective. I was a lot less stressed, arrived at the competition feeling nervous and excited, rather than stressed and angry. My horse went much better and my scores improved. I found my dressage much easier because i could actually go over the test – shouting it out loud in the car, driving to the show, so i did not have to panic about not having a caller. Showing was easier because i arrived in time to wash the fresh poo stains off my coloured cobs white bits, and arrive at the correct ring sparkling and on time. I competed in showing, dressage and very occasionally jumping so i had 2 different outfits – one for each event. I also had 3 different sets of tack (3 bridles, 2 saddles) and a range of saddlecloths, boots,brushes and chalk.
When i had my lorry i kept everything in that, i had a separate grooming kit for shows, which stayed in the lorry and all my jackets shirts etc were hung up in the living, however when i downgraded to a trailer i found that i had to remember everything because it was no longer on board. I decided that i needed to find a system that worked. On the trailer i kept a vet kit, water bucket and canister and my grooming kit. These were never taken off the trailer. In my wardrobe at home i had 2 jacket bags, one contained my full showing attire tweed jacket, yellow jods, yellow shirt, tie, tie pin, hairnet, number elastic, plain hair bobble, pop socks, yellow gloves, show cane and velvet hat. The second contained my full dressage/jumping attire white breeches, black jacket, hat band bling, hairnet, white gloves, long whip, pop socks, stock and stock pin. I also have a long boot bag with my boots and cleaning kit in.
Now everything has a bag and the bags are labelled and easy to identify: Double Bridle, Snaffle Bridle, Gag Bridle, Dressage Saddle, GP Saddle, Rug Bag, Travel Boot Bag, Jacket Bag, Hat bag, Riding boot Bag etc This allows me to very quickly see what i need and grab it, without it getting mixed up or dirty. The bags can all be found on the website, we can personalise the bags so you can have any writing you want or need on them.
The night before the show i get the horse bathed and ready, and make sure the tack is cleaned and ready to go, then i put my jacket bag, saddlecloth, boots and hat in the car the night before. I also fill up the water canister and put in fresh hay nets into the trailer as well. I do not put my tack in the car or the trailer overnight as i am too worried about it getting stolen.
The tack remains in the Travel bag in the tack room, packed and ready, I also have the boots/bandages i will use to warm up in, my saddlecloth, exercise sheet, passport DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT, and drink in the Travel Bag. In the morning i can just grab the bag and go. It is SO MUCH easier to only have to remember ONE BAG. This is where the packing lists really help, i like to tick off each item as i put it in to the bag or car – that way i know it is definitely with me.
If i am at a stay away competition that is a trek from the lorry/tent to the stables i like to use my Saddle trolley – this holds 2 saddles and all the associated gear, great to share if a couple of you compete together. This trolley folds flat so its really easy to store and transport – bonus when you have to pack all the extra bedding and feed for a stay away show. I also use the Mini Travel bag to pack all my bandages, boots, rugs and hoods. It makes it so much easier when everything is together in one case, and also take up a lot less room.
I also now like to get up earlier in the morning of an event and get all my mucking out etc done before i go,the first thing i do on arrival at the yard it hitch up the trailer and move it in to position ready for loading. I find this is one of those jobs that i can do in about 12 seconds flat when i am relaxed, but if i am running late and stressed i can guarantee it will take me 10 mins just to line the car up, then the wheel clamp will refuse to come off etc etc. After ensuring the trailer is in position ready, i give the horse a check over for poo stains and wash any white bits that need doing,then rub dry with a towel and then cover in chalk. I then do all my yard jobs, so when i get back i can put the horse in the field or stable, sweep out the trailer and go home.
After the show i take all my bandages, travel boots, saddlecloths etc home and wash straight away, along with my shirts jackets etc, then i put everything back in its storage bag ready for packing for the next competition. I make a note of anything that needs replacing and again get it brought and in the bags ready for use. I also get my packing list wiped clean ready for the next use. I have different packing lists for different events for example competitions, clinics, beach ride, cross country schooling etc. This is to ensure i always have the correct equipment at the correct event.
There are printed wipe clean packing lists available to purchase on the website, or you can get a free copy direct to your inbox to print out at home.
I hope you all have a fantastic season, and please do share your photos of your Tidy Tack Bags in use this season .