Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Welcome to the latest edition of EquiNation's Take 5 Things series. This time we have Sophie Tunnah, equestian blogger to tell us about the top five things she thinks every equestrian needs, but P.S also for the record I think I need the 20 matching sets, 5 different boots, 50 pairs of cute jodphurs and base layers, also the 12 rugs for my horse!
About Team Tunnah Equestrian
I’m Sophie, and I have been riding since I was 4 or 5, classically starting out in a riding school environment, before being lucky enough to have a loan pony when I was 9. I had a big long break from riding between 13 and 21, and would say I started taking things a little more seriously around 2011 when I joined British Dressage. Today, my four-legged partner is Louie, a 9 year old cheeky ISH, we’ve been together 5 years and I’d describes us as competitive amateurs at the grassroots levels. There’s another member to our team – my husband Andrew who is one of our biggest supporters in every way possible, and for a non-horsey human, he does an amazing job to help out! At the end of 2012, I decided to start an equestrian blog of my competition and training (Team Tunnah Equestrian), more in the style of a diary and aimed really just for my own reading, but soon built a lovely following through a very supportive community. Today, it remains true to that original creation, sharing competition and training reports, but it also now includes insight into our everyday yard life, reviews on our favourite products, my opinions on certain topics and my general rambling about areas of the equestrian sport that I enjoy.
One thing that’s common across all equestrians is that we all have lots of “stuff”. I know for sure each time I go to clear out my storage boxes, tack room, cupboards or feed room, I find things that I don't remember I had, or that are “spares” for that once in a blue moon need for an immediate replacement (which then never actually happens!) However, in amongst all of that, there a few things that I think every equestrian should have, whether functional or luxury, there’s a need for them all!
So here’s my five things that I think each and every equestrian must have: 1.Gloves. I swear by a good pair of gloves, whether to protect my hands while doing yard jobs, or extra grip on the reins in the saddle or helping me give Louie a good wash. Everyday I use a pair of all purpose yard gloves while mucking out, filling nets, making feeds, as well as leading Louie to and from the field. Made of rubber on the palms and underside of the fingers, with seam-free nylon on the back, they aren’t thick and clunky to get on with the things you need to do. There’s even a winter variation, fleece-lined to keep your fingers toasty warm during the colder months! One of my worst habits in the saddle is not holding my reins with closed fingers, so I often unintentionally allow my reins to lengthen. As such, and along with rubber grip reins, I always opt for gloves that offer grip. Most recently going for a pair with silicon grips covering the full palms and fingers to help prevent those reins getting an easy escape! The final pair of gloves I keep on hand every time I wash Louie, whether a full bath or just getting those socks bright white for heading to the dressage, is textured washing gloves. There’s many choices on the market for this type of glove, but I look for ones that are good at getting grease out of the coat when giving him a full bath, AND that are good for a pre-wash scrub of his socks to get out the mud and stable stains. 2.Mane and tail spray. Everyone with a four-legged friend needs a good one of these. Not only are they brilliant mud repellents for the winter months, without leaving an oily texture to the tail, it also helps to prevent the dreaded mane rub that heavy winter rugs brings. I use my spray after every time I wash Louie’s tail, spraying it on very liberally while the tail is still wet, before plaiting from the tail bone down. I use the spray about every 7-10 days on Louie' tail to keep it tangle free as none of us used to like it when our parents would brush our knotted hair, pulling away on our scalp each time, so I spray and leave while giving him a good groom so when I go to brush it, it just glides right through. A well brushed, tangled free tail, floating in the breeze while trotting along always looks so beautiful! 3. Equi-ping. While baler twine is great, it can cause a lot of pressure when a horse pulls back, and it doesn’t always snap. So when I tie Louie up, I always use a tie of baler twine PLUS an equi-ping, or even sometimes just the equi-ping. I carry one in the wagon for use when Louie is tied to the side, and one in the stable yard that I move around from outside him stable to the wash area when needed. Both areas on my yard are concrete and if he really wants to pull back and twine just doesn’t snap, I don’t like the idea of so much pressure going through a thin surface like a headcollar, or the risk that he slips with his shoes on the concrete surfaces. At 80kg of pressure, the mechanism on the ping will release. It is fully re-usable and I’ve had mine for many years so they do last very well. 4. Socks, the breathable ones! I’ve had some socks over the year that leave my feet SO sweaty even on the coldest of days. Specifically for riding, my top tip is to opt for a sock with a cotton foot, and my preference is for thin nylon material over your calf. This will leave your feet breathable in them, while also not being bulky underneath your long boots or chaps. They aren’t the most practical for kicking about the yard or field, so if you’re on a day when you’re not hopping in the saddle, opt for a tall cotton based sock throughout. There are all sorts of bright and magical patterns and colours of tall socks now on the market, so the topic of socks is far less dull than it use to be! 5. Tack cleaners. A job a few love, but most hate. I sit on the love side, well, sort of. I enjoy keeping my tack clean daily, but hate sitting and cleaning it after a few weeks of grease and dirt building up, so maybe that’s why!? A good cleaner, suitable for daily use, that’s good at lifting dirt and grease is something I think everyone should invest in. The one I go for cleans and conditions in one so leaves tack feeling soft and supply. Just 2-3 sprays onto a damp sponge to wipe over my bridle, reins, girth and saddle after each ride, usually while Louie is cooling down, leaves it clean, in good condition and supple for long lasting leather work. Don’t go for a cleaner that’s concentrated in glycerine (like a traditional soap bar) as this is likely to need washing off or use of a follow up product to avoid leaving tack feel sticky. We all spend a lot of money on our tack – bridles and saddles aren’t exactly cheap! But daily tack cleaning is something so many don’t do; I didn’t use to until I considered how I’d care for other products of the same value! Daily cleaning also enables you to become really familiar with your leather work, making it easy to see any crack, split or signs of wear before they turn into snaps or breaks.