Going the Distance: Packing for the race

In the endurance world, you can’t Go Riding until you’ve packed up your supplies. This week, Sharalyn Hay outlines what you’re going to need for your trip.

From Sharalyn:

There’s no such thing as over-packing…

Last week I talked about procreating lists and how to get your truck, trailer and camper ready for the adventure that is race weekend. And it is an adventure. Especially if you make it to the end.

But that discussion is for another day…

First we need to actually get you to the race. Which can be a daunting task. How do I know? Well, I’m currently packing for Grizzly Mountain in Central Oregon, which is this weekend. It’s also the first ride of the season for Flash and I–whoo hoo!! (We are just a teeny bit excited.)

My truck is ready. My camper is stocked with groceries and wine. My trailer just got a hose-down and relined with shavings. Now is the time to tackle the packing for the horse, the human and the tack. I know you think that the horse and the tack would probably be on the same list. You would be wrong. Unless you want a really long list, that is.

First up… the horse. If your horse is shod, you don’t need to worry about hoof protection. But, if you tend to ride barefoot you need to remember to bring along hoof protection for the ride. Also needed will be a waterproof blanket, a fleece (or wool) sheet or cooler, shipping boots (good as a precaution), the grooming products (brush and hoof pick at the minimum) and, of course, the containment unit for the horse while you are at ride camp. Containment can be in the form of portable corral panels, a high-tie or a portable electric fence. I don’t recommend just tying to the trailer because it doesn’t allow for enough movement on the part of the horse, in my opinion. And you don’t want the other horses making fun of him because he has to stand tied to the trailer the whole time. Horses can be cruel. Trust me.

Flash and I have portable corral panels. This way, when I hear the call of “loose horse” at 4:18 a.m. on ride morning, I’m 99.6% sure that it isn’t my horse that’s the one on the run. My panels hang on brackets on the side of my trailer and are easy to set up and take down. They weight about 45 lbs. per panel (not bad for a complete wimp like myself).

Now that the horse is ready to go, it’s time to get yourself packed. The important things are riding boots (that you have used many times–now is not the time to break in a new pair), two pairs of socks for ride day (have one in your vet check tubby in case your feet are gross and sweaty by the time you get there), half chaps, riding pants/tights, waterproof overpants (if needed), shirts that are layered (I tend to do a short-sleeve T with a long-sleeve T over the top and then a sweatshirt… you want to be able to peel off layers without freezing to death), waterproof coat (very important in Oregon, maybe not so much where you’re at), riding gloves and helmet. The trick for the rider is to make sure you can layer on or off easily and from the saddle. Also, you might want to practice taking on and off layers before you actually make it to race day. Even though your horse might be a very forgiving soul, he might think differently about a human-eating coat that just magically appeared out of nowhere and is now gobbling up your top half… next up on the coat’s menu might be him.

OK: the human is ready and the horse is ready. Now it’s time to gather up all your tack. Make a list and really check it twice. A few years ago I made it to a ride and had forgotten my girth. Not good. Not good at all. So the important things are: saddle, girth, breast collar, halter, bridle (or halter-bridle, if that’s the way you roll), leg protection (if you use it), hoof protection (mentioned above, but still very important–after all, no horse no hoof), sponge with leash, crupper (again, if you use it), saddle bags and map/GPS holder. In my next post, I’ll be addressing what to pack in your saddle bags and how to balance out the load.

Let me just say that the beauty of endurance is that there is no one right way to do anything when it comes to this sport. I guess that’s why I love it so much. At any given ride you will see a myriad of saddles, packs, bridles, breeches and just about anything else you can imagine. Some things will work for you. Some things won’t. Just keep an open mind and be ready to have fun. And remember… to finish is to win.

About the author: Sharalyn Hay is owned by Flash (the Arab), Storm (the Mustang) and Goodwin (the NSHxTB) and by her dogs Daisy and Noelle. In her spare time, Sharalyn slaves away at her “real” job to make sure that the pocket book is never down on it’s luck. You can follow her at her blog here.

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