The Competitor’s Toolbox: The [Right] Equipment

Next up in the competitor’s toolbox: equipment. Because having the right equipment for your competition goes further than the truck and trailer needed to get there.

In many, if not all, disciplines, there are rules around what type of equipment is allowed, and what will get you disqualified. Needless to say, if you show up at a rated (english) Dressage show with a Tom Thumb bit on your horse, you will not be allowed to compete. This type of rule is in place to discourage using shortcuts on the path to ribbons, keeps the purity of dressage intact, and maintains a level playing field among competitors. Referring to yesterday’s post, this is yet another mental responsibility of the rider- to know what is and isn’t appropriate for your level and discipline.

Most rulebooks go into detail about appropriate or illegal equipment

Most rulebooks go into detail about appropriate or illegal equipment

And then there is tack as a matter of preference. This can get into the slightly subjective realm of what makes for the best picture to present to a judge, and whether or not the judge should look at the tack and what extent they should take it into consideration for scoring the horse and rider. But, preferred tack can also relate to the pieces we choose that we feel give us a competitive edge. On cross country, that may be a giant yellow watch. For a hunter rider, maybe it’s shoeing your horse in aluminum shoes. For a dressage rider, it could be the stickiest full seat breeches on the market. And so on and so forth. It could be any one thing that you utilize that makes you more confident, and in turn makes your showing experience a better one.

For instance, doing dressage in a dressage saddle is a preferred tack choice...

For instance, doing dressage in a dressage saddle is a preferred tack choice…

...since it helps your leg elongate around the horse

…since it helps your leg elongate around the horse

Lastly, we all have specific equipment requirements due for the safety of horse and rider. Eventing in particular has lots of rules around safety equipment, especially for the more dangerous cross country phase. Chest protectors and armbands with your medical information can help keep you safe or assist others in giving you medical aid. Whether you agree with it or not, the British Eventing Association just made skull caps (brimless helmets) mandatory for cross country jumping as well. All of these devices are meant to give all the greater chance of recovery, should something go wrong, and as such competitors are required to have them at events.

Whether it’s to make you an eligible competitor, to give you that competitive edge, or to keep you safe, having the right equipment is a mandatory facet of equestrian competition.

Do you have a piece of equipment you just won’t show without?

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11 thoughts on “The Competitor’s Toolbox: The [Right] Equipment

  1. This is really great, and something I rarely think about- my trainer growing up had us school in pretty much the same tack as we showed in, and gave very clear directions on what he wanted us to use, so I rarely stopped to think about it. Now that I’m branching out a little it’s harder to keep track; can I keep her front boots on in this class, are we allowed a martingale here, things like that.
    But I’ll bring my ear pompoms everywhere! (is there a more technical word for those?) They’re not always legal, but I like to have them on hand in case the pony gets overwhelmed during warmup.

  2. Love this series!! Having the right equipment organized and on hand also helps me feeler calme and more mentally prepared. Esp all those other little things for the time spent hanging out around the trailers and keeping the horses happy. As for my favorite piece of equipment : gotta be my new saddle that finally fits both of us 🙂

  3. I show in my regular tack, though I have some show saddle pads and outfits for myself. Only recently have I begun experimenting with bits that are not dressage legal. Its imperative to know what tack is and isn’t allowed and for riders to read the rules rather than rely on trainers or coaches.

  4. I completely agree with the right tack for the right discipline giving you a boost of confidence. Do I need a fancy helmet? No, but does it make me feel ‘just as good as’ my competitors? Why yes, it does.

  5. I can speak volumes to this. Just broke my ankle in three places due to a crappy stirrup leather that finally gave out under the pressure! Proper equipment is SO important.

  6. This is very well-written! I have so many things I do in terms of “preferred” tack, from the bridle itself, to the bit I use and the shoes on my horse. It’s all about what works best for me and my horse!

  7. Pingback: Skull Cap | A House on a Hill

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