We missed the SSDL Championships this year for varying reasons but have instead decided to embark on a new journey with the old bird to the Veteran Horse Society Championships at Arena UK. Now Arena UK is not exactly a long journey for us, in fact one season we joked it was our second home as we were there literally EVERY weekend and some weekdays too but still, none of us have had a holiday this year, so the VHS Champs are our make-shift holiday… We have noticed that quite a few people on the Facebook page haven’t stayed away at a show before, so we are hoping there is something on here for everyone.
So today, we are doing the Team Taylor’s Guide to Stay Away Shows… Well done if you make it to the end! TT Part 2 (Sarah) Started waffling. She’s sorry.
Bedding – Double check the type of bedding that you are allowed to take. Some venues will not allow straw, with this in mind, shavings are nearly always a good bet.
Feed – We always take 2 extra feeds to what we would normally need. The Patchy one is a notoriously poor eater when staying away and so simply offering her a fresh feed can tempt her to eat her rations. We wouldn’t eat food that has been sat around for 5 hours, why should the pony (She’s far too posh anyway to do this). Make sure that you take more than enough hay or haylage for the duration as well.
Tack – Easy one. Clean it before you leave, it should only need a quick wipe over when you arrive then.
Rugs – The delightful British weather will choose the weekend of a show to rain, throw gale force winds and storms in the direction of the venue. Guaranteed. Turnout rugs are great for lots of reasons and will even make a makeshift tent for covering stuff with when the heavens open.
Water – Be aware that some horses don’t like a change to their usual water. It might be best to take some water from home, so they are familiar with the taste and smell. Apples or apple juice can be a good way of tempting fussy drinkers.
Listen to your horse – Horses like humans are all different. Some relish staying away, others find it quite stressful and tiring. The latter can often tire more quickly when worked than others. For us, it’s better to miss a class if a horse is feeling a bit tired and save them for the next day. Our oldies may find staying away quite exciting as well, this can also tire them, so just bare this in mind.
Grazing – Alot of us still have our horses on some sort of grazing at this time of year. A pick of grass for our friends will be a welcome treat and can help to relieve some stiffness from standing in a stable overnight. Just check where you can hand-graze your horse before you wander to the nearest patch of Dr. Green as some venues may restrict where you can graze your horse.
Staying Clean – Treat stay away shows with the same respect/disdain as being at Glastonbury. Baby wipes will become your new best friend. You can never have enough of them. Mud in hair, baby wipe it. Poo stain (On the horse), baby wipe it. Quick tack clean, baby wipe it!
If you fancy a shower, take flip-flops. We aren’t going to lie, event showers are lovely and beat a baby wipe wash but they can be grim – Not always but sometimes. We won’t go into the sights we have seen but let’s just say, flip-flops will protect your feet from whatever is or has been on the floor.
Staying Warm – Clothes, clothes and more clothes. There is honestly nothing worse than wet socks and a wet bra and pants. Take a spare pair or 2 of each to change into. They take up very little room but trust us, you will be thankful when the rain comes.
Sleeping – If you haven’t got living in a lorry and can afford a camp bed off the floor, it will keep you warmer. They can be picked up super cheap this time of year (Now that camping season has finished) Layer a blanket onto the bed, sleeping bag and another blanket and you will be surprised at how much warmer you’ll stay. Layer everything.
Water – We read every day about drinking enough water but seriously, take some bottled water with you. For the sake of a couple of quid and a bit of space taken up by bottles of water, it’s worth it.
Miscellaneous – Toilet roll. We never go anywhere without toilet roll. Never quite know when you are going to need it.
Torches everywhere. Cheap and cheerful and handy for finding toilets at midnight, late night checks on horses, searching for spare socks.
On arrival you will have to register with the stable manager, who will tell you where your stable is. It’s always a good idea to be nice to stable managers, no matter how stressed you are feeling. A smile goes a long way. They have a tough job and they are your port of call for the whole duration and will be your best friend when you may need the emergency farrier, vet or paramedic. You may need to pay a stable deposit. Once you have found your stable, give it a quick check over for objects that your horse may self-harm him or herself on. Next, if you choose to disinfect it, now is the time to do so. It will then be dry enough to bed down by the times you have grabbed all the bedding and tools. It can be handy to put bedding, tools, water bucket, wheelbarrow and hay to the front of the box, or in a spare partition so it comes off first. Bed down the stable, pop water and hay in. We always allow Patch to have a pick of grass or a little ride around when she arrives but there is nothing wrong with just letting your horse chill in his stable, while you sort your own kit out.
- Try and put your sleeping area together while it’s still light. Especially if you are sleeping in a tent. There is nothing worse than trying to put a tent up when it’s dark.
- NEVER EVER leave anything outside a stable, unattended. You’ll be amazed at how quickly items develop legs and go for walkies on their own.
- Buy shavings (If you can & venues are going to hate us for saying this) before you travel to save money.
- An old piece of carpet on the floor can help with warmth and saves on bedding, although remember you’ll have to take it home with you smelling of horse wee!
- You will need to take your own mucking out tools and buckets. A wheelbarrow is exceptionally handy for anything that involves carrying and will be invaluable for transporting bedding to and from stables.
- As tempting as it may be to re-use bedding that may already be in a stable, don’t. You genuinely don’t know what horse has been in that stable beforehand.
- We always give a wipe and swill around of Jeyes fluid before we bed down as well, paying attention to stable grills. It will only take 10 minutes and does greatly reduce the risk of cross-contamination and can help to prevent diseases and bugs from spreading. It won’t kill every bug but will help a bit.
- Don’t use buckets that have been left from previous occupants.
- Old duvet covers are fantastic for travelling bales of hay in and stop it getting everywhere.
- Bucket covers are also brilliant for preventing spillages of feed.
- Bag feeds up in carrier bags before travelling and saves space, rather than taking 6 separate buckets.
- A spare turnout rug will always end up being used and are great for preventing poo stains when stabled.
- Temporary stables can also be a lot colder than permanent ones, so a spare fleece/cotton sheet or stable rug will never go amiss, you may not need it but you might, so better to be prepared.
- Toiletries can be stored in a large food bag, making them easy to grab and see and also keeps your toothbrush away from anything unclean.
- A spare blanket will also be appreciated. The temperature has a habit of dropping to about 10° below that of the ‘true temperature’ after a day of competing.
- Jogging bottoms are also a must have to chuck on over show clothes, wandering around between showers, eating in the canteen or for sleeping in. Basically, besides show clothes, bring fleeces, woolly hats and joggers!
- Try not to go to sleep with wet hair unless it is covered with a woolly hat.
- Lorry or tent shoes and separate, outdoor shoes are also a must. It’s not nice traipsing mud and wet into the area where you sleep.
- Make lists before you travel and tick off each thing when it gets packed. That way you know that you have everything.
- Invest in a portable mobile phone charger. These can usually be picked up for under a fiver in most tech shops and will provide power when you need it the most.
- A corkscrew & Hammer. If the corkscrew doesn’t sort it, the hammer will… On a serious note, a hammer is really useful for alot of things, from quick fixes to partitions to loose tent pegs. Baler band or string is also really handy. Makeshift washing line for drying rugs, saddle cloths and boots, temporary fixes of rugs and quick and safe tie up spots within stables. (Although we are of the era where we never went anywhere without baler string in our pockets!) Many thanks to Jay Ward for this Top Tip. 🙂
Lastly and this is our most important thing. Have fun, don’t stress, smile and breath. There is nothing that can’t be fixed, no matter how far away from home you are.