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Horze Guide

Competing in extreme weather

By: Ashley Kehoe

Location: Ocala, Florida
Season: February
Discipline: Eventing

This past weekend I competed in the Ocala Horse Trials in Ocala, FL. It was one of the coldest and wettest weekends Ocala has seen for a long time. It was a good reminder to double check that I had all my essentials packed to handle any type of weather!

I keep extra trunks stashed in the gooseneck of my trailer with towels, coolers, blankets and rain sheets for the horses. I also have a trunk with extra raincoats, rain pants, socks, gloves, hats, and rain boots. You never know when you’ll be hours from home and the weather takes a turn for the worse. Being prepared can turn a miserable day into a bearable one!

I also prepare for riding differently if I know it will be wet and muddy. I never use leather reins. As soon as they are wet they’re bound to slip. I use rubber reins and cotton gloves, or gloves made to handle wet conditions. Also, I never use leather full seat breeches in the rain. Leather on leather, especially when wet, can be slick as ice. I prefer full seats with a synthetic grip material, or suede knee patches. I keep a towel or saddle cover on my saddle until I am ready to go in the show ring. I never condition or put leather soap on the saddle if I know it is going to rain. I usually use a beeswax or water repellant crème if I think of it beforehand. Sometimes I just spray a think coating of sticky spray on it, and condition the saddle after my ride. When it’s raining, a freshly conditioned saddle can be slick, and you just have to be careful when riding. Making sure your groom, working student, or extra help for the day knows this is essential!

I prefer cheese grater stirrup irons, because when ring grit or mud gets on them, they still hold their grip. Rubber stirrup pads or even those wrapped with vet wrap won’t help your foot stay secure when the going gets slippery. I also keep a bucket heater in my trailer, because you never know when you’ll need to give a bath or a hot bran mash and the show grounds doesn’t have hot water.

It is just as important to be prepared for hot weather! I keep a few extra fans, extension cords, buckets, sponges and sweat scrapers stored in the trailer. I also have a big cooler in the back of my truck that I can readily use to store ice for the horses and bottles of water for me. I hope for warm sunny days at every event, but knowing I’m prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at me keeps me confident and ready to tackle even the toughest courses!