Horse ownership is, without doubt, a huge commitment. Whether it’s a small pony or 17hh horse, the time, finance, experience and knowledge needed to undertake a successful partnership is considerable. However, there can be no argument made to the amount of enjoyment and benefits to health that comes in exchange.
Alongside the benefits, expense and commitment, there are a plentitude of products needed to fulfil your (new and exciting) role as a horse owner that can help make life easier alongside keeping your horse’s health in check.
In this feature, we highlight 11 of these must-have items.
So, without further ado…
Weighing your horse on a regular basis is essential for assessing body condition. Using a weigh tape will also help work out how much feed and hay to feed.
A horse’s weight can easily fluctuate through the seasons, with certain types prone to weight gain and carrying excessive weight all year round. Excessive weight or loss thereof can lead to a multitude of health problems for your horse. Seeing your horse every day, it’s easy not to notice subtle changes that add up over time too, so a weigh tape is essentially a tool to see what your eyes may miss.
Weight gain, or loss, can also affect the fit of the horse’s saddle, your horse’s mood, and energy levels. It can also detect underlying health issues. So, as you can see, there are many reasons and benefits to to buying and using a weigh tape.
A set of scales (or spring balance) in the hay room can prove invaluable for health reasons, especially when your horse is on a strict weight management plan. However, a set hanging up will also encourage you to weigh your hay to make sure your horse is getting the correct amount required for heat and energy requirements, alongside helping save money and prevent waste. Knowing how much hay you feed your horse will also help when the vet and farrier visit.
No matter what the season, Hi-Viz gear is essential for any horse and rider. Purchasing items that use a selection of reflective and luminous parts maximises visibility on the road, whether riding or leading a horse. Sun and shade can create blindspots for drivers, alongside bleak conditions.
Yellow, orange and pink are the three main colours, with strips of reflective material on arms, backs or all over. Exercise sheets, ear bonnets, leg straps/wraps/boots, saddle pads, rein strips and martingales can all be purchased in hi-viz to be worn by the horse. Jackets, riding leggings, hat bands, gilets, lights, armbands, gloves, base layers and bootstraps can be worn by the rider.
Items purchased should adhere to European Standards which differ according to the required use.
In short – a horse and rider can never wear too much Hi-Viz.
Stable Yard Boots
Typically you’ll need two pairs of boots – (yes we just gave you a good enough reason to go and buy two) a pair of boots appropriate to endure long winter months – and a lighter pair for spring/summer. Why? Often the boots you wish to spend the winter months in don’t make it through to spring and can overheat your feet and become faulty. You’ll want a fresh pair for hygiene reasons too.
A fresh pair of boots as you approach the different seasons is a great excuse to go out and treat yourself, alongside of course, keeping your feet comfortable, dry and in good condition.
Jodphur boots are a good choice if you are in and out of the saddle, however, a sturdier short boot is recommended for autumn and winter months when working around the stable yard. Look for boots that are water resistant, breathable, ankle length with laces or a zip – just make sure they aren’t too heavy!
For winter, go all out! Full length, with a padded sole, waterproof material and breathable fabric, such as Brogini Winchester Lace Up Country Boots which are great for keeping your feet snug and dry alongside being practical and versatile.
Long Horse Riding Boots
Buying a pair of long horse riding boots is an essential task once you’re riding your horse and especially when competing. You may choose to purchase a cheaper pair for riding at home, and a more expensive set for competition. Either way, long horse riding boots are an essential part of any horse rider’s wardrobe. Choose a pair that offer comfort and elasticity around the leg. A good elasticated calf, with a sturdy zip, is a good place to start. It may sound daft, but the zip will make the difference in terms of fit, and the longevity of the boot – after all, you don’t want to be taking them to get fixed within 12 months of purchase.
Laces that stretch is another important aspect to consider, alongside the width of the calf and sole. An excellent long riding boot with wide calf is the Moretta Ventura Riding Boots.
Top tip: Try to keep in mind the colour of your tack, don’t buy a brown boot if your tack is black.
Horse and Rider Insurance
Horse and rider insurance is essential for any horse or pony owner. The cover gives you peace of mind should the worst happen, and helps protect your horse and finances in the long run. Depending on the age, type, breed and use of the horse or pony, policy cover quotes will vary, so take your time and write down a list of points that you want out of the cover.
There are a number of policy extras, however, you should make sure the following are included:
- Veterinary Fees – preferably up to £5,000
- Third-Party Liability
- Loss of use
- Death, theft or straying
Some horse insurance providers offer additional aspects of cover such as horsebox, tack and disposal cover. It’s recommended you ask this while speaking to a specialist. Another area to consider, which will affect the cost of the premium too, is the riding level and competition cover such as light hack, endurance riding, show jumping etc.
A riding helmet is another essential item whether you ride your horse or not. Horses, like many other animals, can be unpredictable at times, especially youngstock and stallions. It is recommended you wear a hat whenever working around a horse, in some establishments it is a necessity, not only to keep you safe but for insurance cover too.
It’s best you keep up to date with current BETA standards. Body protectors and riding hats have to pass particular safety standards, especially when out competing. As you climb the ranks on the competition circuit, you will need to adhere to the regulations set out in the event regulations.
Companies such as Charles Owen offer riding hats that are in line with current legislation and BETA, which are not only comfortable and safe but stylish too.
Another point is if you have a hat that you have had a fall whilst wearing, it’s recommended you replace it as cracks under the silk in the shell, often occur and severely impact the level of security. This article from BETA will tell you more about what you need to know.
Naturally, the hint is in the name. A body protector really can mean the difference between life-changing injuries and a couple of bruised ribs. Cross Country riders and many showjumpers now wear inflatable body protectors that are activated once falling from the horse. In 2013, Laura Collett suffered a rotational fall where had she not been wearing an inflatable body protector, the outcome may have been very different.
Again, keeping in line with BETA standards, and rules set out by competition organisers, there are many different types you can choose from that offer comfort and are discreet under a show jacket, for example. Foam padding is a favourite when talking about a traditional body protector, alongside other materials used for breathability and flexibility.
Not an obvious one, but, a timesaver in many situations such as loading, and handling your horse. A must for lunging and long reining … and the list goes on. Typically around 25 feet in length, look out for a soft webbing material and a small clip. But, why a small clip? You’ll be surprised how large some clips are, proving difficult or impossible to thread it through a bit ring or a surcingle – meaning you have to thread it from the wrong side, not great with a fidgety horse or time of crisis.
You can now purchase lines with markers on them to help highlight when your horse is on a 10 or 20 meter circle, which is great for lunging as you get a feel for how well your horse balances and carries himself on a particular size circle.
First Aid Kit for Horse and Rider
There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you have all you need to help you and your horse should an injury occur. Reaching for those essential items without having to worry is not only a time saver, but affects how quickly the horse or rider is treated.
Hibi-scrub, or similar, is a great disinfectant to have to hand. From treating mud fever to cleaning sponges, it’s a must-have addition to your kit – it’s also great for washing hands before and after handling medication and open wounds.
You can find a list of items to include in your First Aid Kit here.
And finally, what every horse owner needs … a bottle of wine!
Whether you’re celebrating a competition win, shaken by your vet bill or acknowledging defeat from a stand-off with your four-legged friend, a bottle of wine will never go amiss! While we’re not encouraging alcoholism … the odd glass or two will do the job just fine!