When it comes to basic horse care, I don’t think any two people go about it exactly the same way. Yet, millions of horses all over the world, live healthy, well-kept lives, in spite of our differences. I think that’s a valuable lesson in itself, yes? Different doesn’t have to be synonymous with wrong. Just because you do the bulk of your grooming after your ride, where I do it before, doesn’t make either of us incorrect. Like in math, different formulas can still arrive at the same result.
I suspect, that many of our grooming kits probably contain a lot of the same, if not similar items. Some folks have a separate kit for each horse (my personal preference), while others use community kits. They usually hold basic staples like; a brush or three, a curry of some kind, and a hoof pick. Beyond that though, what else do you think of as your core supply of grooming and vet items?
I tend to over-stock. In every barn I’ve boarded at, and every show I’ve gone to, I’m the person that everyone knows to go to if they need something. In life, I’m also the bearer of a 30 pound purse, containing everything but the kitchen sink. How I arrived at this person, I’m not really sure. My parents are both planners, so I suppose it’s in my genetic blueprints, I like to be prepared. You would think, from the sound of my inventory, that I have a barnful of horses, but it was only ever one, maybe two for a short time. I hated trailering with other people, because they never organized their trailers the way I did, or respected how I organized my own. If I rode with someone else, that meant editing my packing list, and that wasn’t cool, what if I needed something I didn’t pack? I suppose if I’d ever had my own kids, I’d have been the mom with the suv loaded to the gills with baby stuff, and only one kid in the back seat J
Let’s start with my grooming kit. Outside of the standards; a variety of brushes, one stiff one for heavy crud, a medium one for the not-so-filthy days, and a small soft one for the delicate spots. I’ve used a number of different curries over the years, but tend to come back to the rubber ones. The oval-shaped with two rows of nubby teeth and a handle, and the mitt style. The rubber seems like it does the best job of grabbing the hair and dirt, without being abrasive. I actually searched for a small vacuum to get Beagle hair off my furniture, with the same features, and found one that does a great job! (It’s the Bissell Pet Hair eraser, and it’s only about $25!) I like the hoof pick with the brush on it, you can’t be too thorough when it comes to cleaning your horse’s feet. Sometimes those little things you miss with just a pick, can turn in to big expensive things. A plastic mane & tail comb, rags, hoof oil, and a vet cream/ointment round out my caddy. If I can’t accomplish a standard daily grooming with that, and elbow grease, I’m failing myself and my horse!
Now take a look inside my tack box. Admittedly, it was more of a tack apartment… Seriously, all I needed was a mailbox. When I said I like to be prepared, to go into detail would talk about the dozen or so headstalls and bits hanging on the door, the pocket shelves on the other door, where an assortment of medicines and vet supplies were kept, the top shelf with a box of those blue paper shop towels, tubs containing things like wraps and quilts, extra stock in larger quantities, horse cookies… Below the two saddle stands, my show grooming box/step stool (a Craftsman item, lots of storage, several trays that fit inside for organization, and a snap on electric cord with 4 plugs. Quite possibly the smartest non-horsey item, that no horse person should be without!), spare buckets, including a bathing bucket, and a large tub full of hay cubes-Buddy’s favorite evening treat. Going back to the bathing bucket, a peek inside would reveal shampoo and conditioner. I never had horses with a lot of white, so I didn’t have to keep an arsenal of brightening shampoos, I usually bought the Vetrolin, it seemed refreshing, but conditioners I bought at the dollar store. For as much as you go through, it seemed silly to spend a lot of money on it. I also kept a rubber scraper, a big sponge, a scrubby mitt, and a small length of hose (just long enough to get around the average horse, not long enough to trip over repeatedly).
Once your horse is clean and tidy, consider what it takes to keep them healthy from day to day. All those pockets on the door of the tack apartment, held what I considered to be the basics of veterinary care. The most important item was my spiral-bound book of vet care. I wish I could remember the name of it now, I’ll have to dig that up. It addressed all the common, and lots of uncommon issues that can come up in horse health. I’m a big fan of anything multi-purpose, like a Gerber multi-tool, duct tape, and sheet cotton. There are human products that work well in the barn too, like peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and saline solution. A thermometer is a must, with a bit of string and a clothespin, to clip to the horse’s tail, so if it happens to be “ejected,” it doesn’t fall to the ground and break. As far as medicines, I liked to stock liniment in liquid and gel forms-handy for vertical applications, spray antibiotics for the same reason, the afore mentioned jar of antibiotic ointment, like furisone, and Bute tablets. Paste is sometimes easier, but I don’t like leaving it in the tack box, since it’s not temperature controlled. If the injury didn’t require stitches or x-rays, I could usually manage it. My vets appreciated that, they knew one, if I called them out, it must be serious, and two, they didn’t need a tech, because I would scrub in and assist.
Maybe I went a little overboard, all for the one horse, but I can’t remember a time I needed something that I didn’t have, or couldn’t put together with the contents of that tack box.