It’s T-minus three weeks until our annual winter migration to Florida. The packing has long-since commenced, and we’ve gotten smarter over the 10 (10!) years we’ve been heading south, leaving more things there so there’s less schlepping. There are spreadsheets. There are whiteboards. There’s even a Google Doc. But it’s still quite the ordeal.
First, logistics: Hay in Virginia runs between $5 and $7, depending on where you get it and how much of it. In Florida, the same timothy hay we get will run me about $18-22. Grain is relatively comparable, and bedding is relatively comparable, but the hay is a doozy. So instead of hauling horses myself, I load my 2+1 Jamco full of Virginia hay and shove as much as I can into other peoples’ trailers as well. (The horses ship commercial.)
But that means that I’ve got the dressing room of that trailer for the personal effects of 12 horses. It’s quite the game of Jenga, but somehow it works. Tack. Blankets. (It does occasionally actually get cold in Wellington, so we take sheets, ceramic sheets and mediums for everyone.) Supplements. SUPPLEMENTS. And then everybody’s individual stuff: boots and helmets and whatever special things people want to bring. Saddle pads. And neoprene boots—I prefer neoprene in Florida because you can rinse it out and dry it, rather than having to wash after every use like fleece-lined boots. The sand in Florida is really abrasive, and I spend a lot of energy keeping legs clean, healthy and dry.
Speaking of, the med kit and grooming supplies. SMZs, because Florida. Wound treatments, basic medical supplies. All the bandaging, non-stick pads and goo you can imagine. SMZs. Anti-fungal shampoos, both prescription and generic. (Medical advice from a liberal arts major: one part acne wash with salicylic acid, one part acne wash with benzoyl peroxide. Cheaper version of the anti-crud shampoo the vets use. Voila.) SMZs. Zephyr’s Garden Summer Spray mixed with apple cider vinegar for general coat happiness. Bit Butter for weird Florida rubs. Spalding Lab’s Bye Bye Insects, my favorite spray. These little traps for around the barn. SMZs.
Brushes, tack soap, braiding stuff. Fly sheets, masks, boots. Longeing stuff, because occasionally the kids go wheeeeeee. And deep in my own tack box, a bag I’m calling the Bag Of Inspiration: a bridle, a girth, and a halter and lead in my farm colors, all sized appropriately for the young horse I’m still trying to call me own. I’m labelling it “Chupi,” for chupacabra, a creature of myth, just like—apparently—a tall, sound young horse with international quality gaits that stays on the market long enough for me to check it out.
Then there are my own things. When the weather turns here in Virginia, and I put away my summer clothes to make room for the cold weather gear in my wee closet, I just pack the summer stuff into a suitcase, so it’s ready to go. Sun shirts. Sun screen. My nifty new Avance helmet from my sponsors at One K. (It’s like if sunlight touches my skin I spontaneously combust or something!). Vitamin D pills, because of all said sun protection.
Show clothes. Office supplies. Reusable coffee filter. Air fryer. (If you don’t own one, you should. They’re wonderful.) Cold brew coffee maker. Spices. My Soda Stream. Travel mugs, for all of the gallons of coffee that will be consumed over four months. Many, many, many dog beds, so that my perfect angel dog, Nike, can be comfortable, while the little blonde heathen one, Georgia, can lie on top of him.
And masks. Lots and lots of masks.
Health certificates, coggins and a bunch of good podcasts. (Now accepting recommendations!) And snacks. Lots of snacks. Good to go!
Lauren Sprieser is a USDF gold, silver and bronze medalist making horses and riders to FEI from her farm in Marshall, Virginia. She’s currently developing The Elvis Syndicate’s Guernsey Elvis and her own Gretzky RV and Ojalá with hopes of one day representing the United States in team competition. Read more about her at SprieserSporthorse.com, or follow Lauren Sprieser on Facebook and Instagram.