It’s that time of year again, when the snow melts, the mud grows, the hair sheds, and the horse shows begin! This is the time of year to get all your show tack and gear in order: clean out that tack trunk, clean those spur straps, shine those boots, wash those saddle pads! And one really important thing we want to emphasize this week is: nameplates! Remember playing ringside “martingale madness” with unlabeled martingales? We do too, and it’s not going to happen again this year because everyone’s names will be on all of their tack!
We recommend putting nameplates on the headstalls of each bridle, like this one:
We recommend putting nameplates near the buckle of the martingale, underneath the excess strap, like this:
And of course, nameplates are tacked onto saddles like this:
We also would love it if you could monogram or label your saddle covers, since they all tend to look alike.
And, the most convenient news of all, is that this Thursday, March 29th,from 5pm-8pm, our friends at The Equestrian Shop in Ipswich are having a Back Bay Farm night, where riders from BBF will receive discounts throughout the store. (And they will have refreshments for us to nosh on while we shop!) That means you can order all the nameplates you need for your tack right there! And if you cannot attend, we can order them for you. Please let us know which ones you need, or we’ll assume you need them all. See you there!
While we have these cold evenings for another month or so, we suggest dreaming of summer days and planning for the 2018 show season! Here’s how you can start to plan and prepare:
Meet with Robin and Megan to set your riding and showing goals. Coming up with reasonable, fun, and challenging goals for your year ahead will help focus your lessons and skills and make important milestones out of even the smallest achievements.
Decide on your personal show schedule. Based on your goals, Robin and Megan can help you decide on the best shows for you to attend—both one-days and away shows!
Make hotel reservations! It’s never too early to book a room! Our hotel suggestions are below.
We are looking forward to meeting with each and every rider at Back Bay Farm, and so excited for the season ahead! Feel free to schedule a good time to talk—and we’ll meet in the WARM and cozy office (and pretend we’re watching the Grand Prix in the summer heat)…
Winter has arrived with a vengeance! What winter clothing should you wear to the barn?
How many times have you not been able to feel your fingers and toes in the last two weeks? How many times have you wondered why you don’t live in Arizona in the last two weeks?
As much as we want to wish the cold away, all we can really do is be prepared, especially with our winter clothing. Whether you’re at the barn every day in the winter or just going for a weekly lesson, here is our advice for what to wear.
The name of the game is LAYERS: you will take some off and put some back on. But the key is to have many of them.
First of all, make sure you have your toes and fingers as warm as possible. Smartwool socks or ski socks inside insulated boots are great. And SSG makes many options for awesomely warm, long-lasting winter gloves. You can find a ton of options at Dover.
Start with a base layer—top and bottom—of long underwear. There are some great thin layers that easily fit under riding pants in both synthetic and silk. REI or LL Bean carry good options.
Riding pants—a few brands make of insulated riding pants, or you can get breeches a size bigger to fit a few layers underneath. There are some good options at Dover Saddlery.Snow pants can also work will in frigid temps as an outer layer.
On top of your base layer, you’ll want a shirt, wool sweater or warm mid-layer (smartwool makes some great ones) jacket, like the Craft Back Bay Farm jackets!
We recommend a down or insulated vest next, as when you’re riding you may peel down to this layer. It will keep your torso warm while letting some heat out so you don’t get too sweaty (and then cold afterwards)!
On top of everything you’ll want a warm coat. There are coats by horse-oriented brands like Dover, or you can find great options at any outdoor store like North Face.
We also suggest a scarf or neck gaiter you can pull up over your mouth and nose, such as a Turtle Fur, and last but certainly not least, a warm hat or ear-warmer to put on when you are not wearing your helmet!
As always, check out The Equestrian Shop in Ipswich for all of these winter clothing recommendations. We know they carry most if not all of what we have suggested above. We hope this bitter cold ends soon but even if it doesn’t, at least we’ll be dressed to make the best of it. Happy New Year everyone!
The decision of whether or not to wear a spur while riding your horse changes on a daily basis. At Back Bay Farm we believe spurs should be used in addition to, not instead of, your natural aids: leg, seat, voice, and hands. Using your spur should not be obvious or rough, and to help achieve all of these things, we have a few suggestions.
What spur should I wear?
We suggest having a few pairs of spurs in your trunk.
The first should be a small spur called a Tom Thumb. The end of the Tom Thumb shank is usually a bit more rounded, although some are flat. These are usually ¼ inch long and come in both child and adult sizes. We suggest a nice black leather strap for these spurs as they are often used for showing.
The second spur you should own is a Prince of Wales spur. These come in a few lengths, usually ¾ inch or 1 inch. Either is fine. The ends of the POW spurs are flat and definitely have more of an effect than the Tom Thumb due to their length and edge. Again, pair these with a nice black leather strap.
How do I wear a spur?
Spurs should always, always point downward when they are on correctly. The buckle should be on the top of your foot, facing the inside of your boot so that the excess strap is secured on the outside of your foot. Some people like to position spurs below the spur rest on your boot, some people like to wear a spur above. This depends on your horse and the situation. We recommend always having Robin or Megan look at your spur before you ride.
Why do I need a spur?
Just as there are days when your horse is wild, there are also days when your horse may be more tired. It could be the final day of a week-long show, or a hot day when no one wants to be working at all! It could be that your horse is a bit lazy in general. Whatever the reason, there are days that your leg needs a bit of an extra edge, and those are the days to wear a spur.
Your spur is never a first resort—it is a reminder to your horse that they need to listen to your leg. That is why a rider without a strong leg shouldn’t wear a spur: a spur on a leg that is swinging or bouncing around will irritate your horse, and can injure a horse’s skin.
However, when used correctly, a spur is a great reminder to your horse that you mean business and impulsion is the name of the game!
Ever just stood in front of an empty tack trunk, not quite sure where to start? Yep, we’ve seen you doing that. So here’s a handy-dandy list of what SHOULD be in your show box, besides your actual tack!
At Back Bay Farm, here is what we recommend (and request) you pack in your tack trunk at home AND your away show box.
Crop(s): it’s good to have a crop for showing and a crop for schooling. Nice to have different lengths, too!
Spurs: it is best to have a nubby pair of spurs and a longer pair as well. Both should have straps that you can show in (black leather).
Extra gloves: again, you may want to have a pair for schooling and a pair for showing. Both should be black.
Extra hairnets: usually two come in a pack and we recommend having two packs! Also pack hair ties with them.
Helmet: this is an obvious one, but some people have a schooling helmet and a show helmet. Pack both!
Boot polish: this is great to have for shining up your boots right before you get on.
Rubbers: for rainy and muddy days, use rubbers to keep those boots (and feet!) clean and dry.
Rain pants: these should fit over your britches and boots!
For your Horse:
Saddle and Bridle: this goes without saying but we thought we’d say it anyway.
Ear balls (several pairs): ear balls are just something you always want to have around, like band aids or hair ties. Have a pair and have a spare.
Saddle pads: you should have extra schooling pads and extra show pads. Show pads should be large enough to show about an inch around the edge of your saddle. Schooling pads should be white or dark colors, no rhinestones or glitter, please!
Ear net/ Fly veil: in the summer there are flies! A lot of them! Help your horse be sane!
Splint boots: bring boots for schooling, please.
Polos: polos should be black and CLEAN. If you know you’re going to use them for schooling and showing, bring more than one pair.
Wools: your horse’s wool is for warmth: after a bath, at the ring, etc.
Scrim: scrims keep the flies and bugs off, both at the barn and at the ring.
Irish: this will help dry your horse after a bath, especially if it’s cooler outside.
Sheet: for cooler days and nights, your horse will wear this in his stall or at the ring.
Standing wraps: these are used for shipping and for nighttime wrapping.
Shipping halter: it’s worth investing in good shipping halters: they last forever and are much more comfortable for your horse.
Every-day halter: your horse won’t wear this on the way to the show, so put it in your tack truck.
Girths: you’ll need a girth for schooling and a leather one for showing.
Horse treats / cookies: last but definitely NOT least—please pack some treats for your trusty steed!
all tack, all horse clothing, and all saddle covers should be labeled with your name. If you have questions about what nameplates to get for your tack, ask us anytime!
BBF riders should have BBF monogrammed wools and sheets for their horses or ponies. Please ask us if you need one!
Have you had THAT nightmare the night before a horse show? You arrive at the show grounds and realize you forgot something BIG: your breeches, your saddle, your boots, your horse?! Don’t worry, by taking these steps to prepare for the show season, that nightmare will definitely remain just a nightmare.
What can you do now to get (and stay) prepared for the show season?
Check/ Purchase Show Clothes:
Find and try on all your show clothes: breeches, blouses, hunt coats, boots, gloves, and helmet. Make sure they’re clean and ready for action by checking all the buttons and seams. Try them on and make sure they fit!
Check/ Purchase Horse Clothing and Grooming items:
Double check all your horse’s clothing and tack. Sheets, wools, polos, boots, tack, saddle pads, brushes, show sheen, shampoo, towels. Make sure everything is clean, dry, and ready to go in your box! If you need new show sheets or wools, please let Robin know as soon as possible.
Check the Packing List:
There are additional items needed if you’re going to attend away shows with BBF in 2017. There is a list on the wall near the bulletin board. Copy it down for yourself or copy it into your phone for reference!
Make sure all your memberships are up to date. You can click here for a page with all the links you will need. This includes USEF, USHJA, MHC, NEHC, and NSHA. Once your memberships are created or renewed and you have your cards, photocopy them all on one page. Then add your name, phone number, and address, and give them to Robin and Megan.
Schedule a meeting with Robin and Megan to sit down and discuss your personal goals for the 2017 show season. You could be working towards regional or national standings, you could be working towards qualifying for the Mass finals, or you could be attending your first shows with a new horse. Everyone has different and important goals; setting and achieving them feels awesome! And if you’re not sure what your goals should be, Robin and Megan can help you define them.
Groom! Groom! Groom More!
Putting in the work now will really pay off later. All the horses and ponies have their spring/summer coats coming in—which means a lot of winter coats shedding out. Use shedding blades for those stubborn spots.
Spring is muddy, which means taking care of those hooves, too! Clean off mud, sand, and dirt, check for cracks, and use hoof oil.
Carefully brush tails and apply showsheen so the next time you brush you’re not pulling out hairs with the shavings and mud.
All the horses and ponies were recently clipped and had their manes pulled and prepped for spring. But if you notice your horse needs a nose or ear trim, let Megan or Robin know!
Each horse show is an opportunity to grow, learn, and most importantly, have FUN. Preparing these things now will allow for more time to focus on that fun—and most importantly–your riding!