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June 18, 2014

No Tack Stall? No Problem! How To Work Off The Trailer Effectively

Working off your trailer at a show can be stress-free and easy with a little organization. Photo by Molly Sorge

It’s horse show season! This will likely generate a mix of excitement, butterflies, massive planning attempts, and possible total frustration if you need to work out of your trailer.

Liv Gude of Professional Equine Grooms knows that if you take some time before your show to get your equipment in order and develop a plan you can make your trailer an awesome home base for your horse. 

Let’s work our way through a few scenarios:

• You are hauling in for the day, you don’t have a stall, and your rig needs to serve as tack room, rest area, grooming station, and stall for your horse. 

First, your horse needs to be comfortable being tied to your rig. Use some sort of safety release so that if your horse tries to pull back, he won’t just tighten the knot and panic more. Using a piece of baling twine to secure the lead rope to the trailer and using panic snaps on your lead rope can prevent major accidents. 

Your horse also needs to be able to eat from a hay net hung high from your trailer—no hooves in low hanging nets allowed. If you are not comfortable with hay nets, try a large muck tub that can rest on the ground. For muck tubs that are designated as feed bins, I always cut the rope handles so no lips, halter pieces or feet get stuck.

Bring along a bucket or tub that you know he will drink his water from. Be sure you have figured out a way to secure it to your trailer (perhaps another breakaway system?) to avoid the dreaded stuck-leg-in-a-bucket scenario. This will cost you another trip to the faucet lugging a heavy bucket at best, a call to the vet at worst. 

Also think about what you are going to do with your horse if you need to run to the restroom or show office. Having an extra set of hands with you to supervise your horse while you are away from your trailer is ideal. For a bonus, make sure those extra hands also enjoy mucking manure!

Organizing your equipment in the tack room of the trailer before you leave home is the key. Hang your bridle in easy reach from the door, have grooming tools in a container you can pull out quickly, and make sure everything you need for the day is easily accessible.

Enjoying a horse show while using your trailer as base camp for the day can be great fun, and it’s super easy to get your horse ready. Your grooming supplies and tack are right there! Even if your trailer’s tack room looks like a tornado hit it, you are not lugging things across the show grounds. Be sure your trailer’s tack room door can be secured while open so it doesn’t catch some wind and smack you or your horse.

• If you have a stall for your horse, but your trailer will be your base camp for the shows, you have a few more variables. 

You can still groom and tack up from the trailer, but you need a way to lug food, mucking supplies, and miscellaneous other items to and from your rig.

Your standard round muck tub can be fitted to a dolly with wheels so it becomes a rolling muck tub of convenience. Rig your own dolly, or find one that is specially designed for use with muck tubs. Use elastic tie downs or baling twine to secure your pitchfork, shovel, and rakes to the handle of the dolly as you tote them along.

Alternatively, you could use a wheelbarrow you bring from home. Sometimes the smaller ones are easier to pack into your trailer and maneuver at the showgrounds.

If you want to carry hay, baggies of grain, and other horse supplies to and from, you can use the same wheelbarrow or tub as the manure if you add a liner of some sort. Old feed bags, your cranky roommate’s pillow case, you get the idea. 

If you are using multiple muck tubs, they easily stack so you could have one for input (hay and grain) and one for output (manure). Add wheels to make your show days easy!

• If you have a stall, but you can’t use your trailer as base camp, and there is no grooming or storage stall, you have a lot more lugging around to do, and some things to install around your stall. 

This is also a situation when adding wheels (or more hands) will help you. You can find a rolling tack caddy, which will help you move saddles, bridles, pads, and maybe even a bucket or two from trailer to stall. As a bonus, these also serve as storage outside of your stall during the day. It’s easy to clean your tack with them, and there’s no chance of your horse knocking your saddle from the stall door.  

In the stall, you may want to consider installing cross-ties that can be taken down when not in use. Some facilities have separate cross-tie areas available, but that’s not always the case.

Hanging hooks are great for helmets, bridles, halters, and even buckets with grooming supplies. Hang them out of reach of your horse, of course!

Keeping supplies in labeled buckets can 
help ease the confusion of a show day.
photo by Liv Gude

It’s also a great idea to organize your items well before show day. Using labeled buckets to contain grooming supplies, wash rack supplies, tack cleaning supplies, etc., will save time, keep you on track, and make it easy for you or your helper to find what you need. 

Clean out your trailer before a show! The collection of blankets and old saddles can stay at home for the day to reduce clutter and make your trailer’s tack area easily accessible.

Pack a large trash bag and a laundry bag, too. Even if you are only going for a day, having a place to toss trash and pile your dirty laundry makes unloading the trailer fast, and you won’t need to clean everything if your dirty boots mix with your clean saddle pads. Most laundry bags have a drawstring that fits nicely on the bridle hooks in your trailer. 

For multiple-day shows, consider organizing a pair of horse boots, a fly bonnets, a saddle pad, your polo wraps into separate containers for each day. You could label them Day 1, 2, 3, or even “schooling,” “show,” “awards ceremonies.” This makes it possible for you to grab the bin labeled Day 2, instead of sifting through the bins for saddle pads, boots, bonnets, etc., to pick out what you need.

Don’t forget to pack duct tape, baling twine, your veterinary kit, and a spare halter and bridle for parts, just in case. Horse showing is fun—make it easy by staying organized and having a plan!

 
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