Whether you’re planning to spend the season abroad on the international circuit, or you’re looking forward to a weekend excursion to the venue down the road, packing your tack trunk is an essential part of your overall success. A well-organized trunk or locker may well be the difference between a stressful experience and thoroughly enjoying your time.
Here are a few tips for how to pack everything safely and securely to save time and reduce stress and ensure you’re as prepared as possible, free from diversions, and ready to let all your hard work shine.
Make Your List
The best way to start packing is to assess your needs and make a list. There are many excellent resources available online that provide ready-made lists that can be used as a guide and tailored to fit your specific needs.
A good list-making method involves going through your entire routine from morning feed to night check, and considering every item you’ll need.
No matter where you’re going, try to prepare for all weather contingencies – both hot spells and cold snaps.
Once completed, your list can also double as an inventory checklist that can be put into water-resistant plastic sleeves and taped to the inner lid of your show boxes so you know exactly what’s inside each of them.
Labelling each trunk with your name, your horse’s name, and contact information is also a good idea in case of emergencies.
Take Advantage of Available Space
Everyone’s packing needs will be different, and will vary greatly depending on the venue, how long you’re staying, how many horses you’re bringing, what you’ll be doing, and how much available space you have.
It’s important to begin by carefully assessing your available space. You might save on space if it’s possible to store things like saddles, bridles, and blankets outside your show box. Strategic use of your trailer’s tack room or living quarters can be a big help. Living quarters are also an excellent option for storing items that need to stay pristine, like show clothes. Your trailer’s tack room can also be converted into a laundry/changeroom while at shows.
If everything inside and outside your trunks is packed securely within its own niche, there’s less chance of discovering damaged items when you arrive. Unsecured items can also pose a safety issue.
Lighter boxes, like those filled with saddle pads and blankets, can be stacked on top of heavier boxes and secured with bungee cords. Larger trunks can also be partitioned with smaller totes or plastic boxes to keep everything separate and secure. It’s finally your chance to use the recycled containers you’ve been stashing away.
Consider which items will require quick and easy access. First-aid kits for humans and horses should be kept well-stocked, up-to-date, and easy to get to in an emergency. Don’t pack vital items behind five feet of hay or shavings!
Group Tack According to its Use
Rather than attempting to cram every piece of tack into a single trunk and suffering the consequences if something spills, try separating items into different categories based on how you use them. Some groups might include:
Bath Bucket / Braiding Kit:
Because the horse showers are often a short walk from the stables, a bath tote is essential at shows. A bath tote is useful whether you need it for full bathing or spot cleaning. Some useful items to include are shampoo and detangler, a grooming mitt, a sponge, a sweat-scraper, and towels.
Your bath tote can also double as a spare bucket, which can be used exclusively for bathing to prevent cross-contamination of your horse’s coat and skin with harsh products. You don’t want to accidentally polish her nose with a rag that’s covered in oil while you’re rushing to the ring.
Your braiding kit can also be kept inside a small bag, box, or fanny pack to ensure all smaller items aren’t lost within your grooming kit.
A Box for Saddle-Pads, Blankets, Wraps, and Boots:
Keeping fabrics in their own box is often cleaner and more efficient than trying to store them with other items, especially liquids. Keeping boots and bandages in individual bags or boxes will also prevent them from being lost, dirtied, or confused with another horse’s gear.
White saddle pads can be rolled and kept inside large plastic bags, such as cheap garment bags, to keep them separate from everyday schooling pads.
If there’s extra room, your saddle pad box is also an excellent place to pack your bridles, especially if they’re wrapped or contained in bridle bags to prevent leather products from transferring onto other items.
A mesh laundry bag where you can store your used towels, wraps, and pads is also a great way to help them dry and separate from clean ones.
A collapsible drying rack, and/or a piece of rope that can act as a clothesline, can be set up in your tack stall or inside your trailer. Laundry lines and bags are also an excellent way to keep shipping wraps clean, out of the way, and ready for use at the end of a tiring weekend.
Tack Cleaning Tote:
A tack-cleaning tote or bucket is also a good way to keep greasy rags and smaller items like toothbrushes together. To keep oils or liquid soaps from spilling, try storing them within large protein-powder or yogurt tubs.
Everyday Grooming Tote:
Grooming tools can be packed in a tote that can be pulled out of your trunk for easy access. A tote with compartments or drawers like a small toolbox or tacklebox with a lid allows you to keep smaller items like rolls of tape and extra scissors organized. Other items used on a regular basis, like liniments, fly spray, and hoof oils, can also be stored here.
Your Personal Gear:
If possible, keep a separate bag or small trunk with your own clothing. You can also put in your show make-up bag, a hair styling bag with hairnets, hairspray, pins, your extra casual clothes, sun-protective hats, glasses, and sunscreen.
A personal trunk is also a great place to keep paperwork, such as your horse’s vaccination records, copies of show paperwork, passports, your wallet with emergency cash, car keys, cell phone, and any other irreplaceable items like stock pins or jewelry you remove when riding.
Finally, a trunk that locks or a padlock and chain is an excellent way to keep everything secure.