Pony Packing 101: A List of Tack Essentials that Capri Brings to WEF
Marina is a guest blogger for Hunt Club chronicling her adventures at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival. She has been riding for twelve years, currently competes in the jumpers, and recently graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh. Follow along as she captures what it's like to be a snowbird at the winter show jumping capital of the world. Joining her is her super-pony mare, Capri, who will be giving her input for many of the blog posts as well.
There's an international event of epic proportions coming in January, and no, it's nothing political. It kicks off January 11th, and it's the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival, in Wellington, Florida.
What is the Winter Equestrian Festival, you ask? It's a twelve week long horse show that happens to be the largest winter showjumping circuit in the world. My lovely mare, Capri, and I, are lucky enough to get to travel there every year to compete and avoid the freezing winters in Pennsylvania. Besides the increase in fitness rides and a much needed body clip, perhaps the most intense part about getting ready for WEF is the packing. The packing, I've found, could arguably be a sport of its own.
I asked Capri to tell me what her essentials are for a winter at WEF. As we dug through her four trunks, she picked out her favorite tack for me to share with you all. Put your helmets on, because I can't guarantee that you won't get hit by falling crops or girths or stabbed with jumper pad safety pins.
1) Bridles by CM Hadfield's Saddlery: Capri has a flatting bridle and a show bridle. I love them for their timeless style; Capri has a very dainty, feminine head that I don't like to overdress. These two bridles are both, "plain," meaning that they have no stitching, and my flatting bridle has a raised noseband and browband for a small but non-distracting detail. Capri's figure-eight bridle is very similar in design, minus the raised noseband. However, my absolute favorite part of these bridles are Hadfield's leather reins. I love their thickness and grip, and I typically don't worry about them slipping out of my hands when Capri does a celebratory head toss after we cross the timers.
2) Saddle Pads: You can never have too many. We keep a collection of baby pads, all purpose pads, and show pads on hand for daily use. Since skin fungus is common for horses in Florida due to the moisture and sand, it is vital to use different pads daily. Baby pads are great because they're light and easy for schooling. We also have a Hunt Club A/P Pad- it's classy and perfect for riding at the horse show. Our Wilker's Jumper Pad comes out for competition, and sports our barn's red, white, and blue colors as well as my last name. Since Capri is small, I like to wrap around her as much as possible when I'm on her back. Therefore, I used a thin shaped pad with extra gel in the seat: it's not too bulky, but provides a little extra protection, all while allowing my saddle to sit right on her sides. I like Capri's look to be crisp and conservative without having excess material under my saddle.
3) Girths by Equifit and SmartPak: Despite the fact that Capri puffs her belly out when she's getting girthed because she finds it amusing to exhale as I'm getting on and therefore causes my entire saddle to slip, she enjoys wearing beautiful girths. When we are showing, she uses the Equifit Anatomical Bellyguard, and for fancy, non-jumping occasions, such as a jaunt around the horse show, we use the Equifit Anatomical Jumper Girth. The bellyguard does as the name suggests: guards Capri's belly from her front feet as she's in the air. These are pretty much the most beautiful girths I've ever seen, and they are extremely comfortable for Capri due to their use of T-Foam liners. The liners come off and go right in the washer. For lighter days of flatwork, we use the SmartPak Fleece Girth. These girths are low maintenance and very economical.
4) D-Teq Boots by Equifit: These boots are absolutely vital to our day, be it a flatting day or a show day. Capri has two full sets of these boots, one that she schools in and one that she shows in. The shells of the boots are designed to shock absorb and protect the leg, and the Impacteq Liners provide extra security from the physical demands of work. Like the girths, the boots liners are removable so they can be washed. Both sets are custom: purple is my favorite color, so her schooling boots are black ostrich with purple piping, and her show boots compliment our red, white, and blue barn theme with some added pop of silver. In addition to the D-Teqs, the AmpTeqs are a valuable training and show tool that are vital to any jumper's trunk.
5) Voltaire Palm Beach Saddle: I will never buy a different brand of saddle than a Voltaire. If it were big enough, I would bring it home to curl up and sleep in. This saddle is made entirely of calfskin and is marketed as the "Second Skin." It feels as though I'm riding Capri bareback; it is incredibly light and close contact, which is perfect for Capri's small but jumper-y frame. I use Voltaire stirrup leathers, but have yet to make the move from the traditional Herm Sprenger Stirrup Irons. They're classic and basic, and help keep my leg in the proper position. I have long legs, so I need all the help I can get in this regard. But perhaps the best part of the saddle is the striped underside and billet guard cover. The saddle is just aesthetically beautiful: it's light framed and trendy without being overdone.
Thank you for letting Capri Pants and I share our favorite tack with you! We are very excited to be sharing our experiences in the sunshine with Hunt Club. Perhaps the only other event that should be a sport second to packing is unpacking. If you need us, we (not Capri, she will instead be sunning herself outside) will be unpacking our trunks wondering how we got everything in there.