The list of needful things can grow long. But to just “get started” many if not most of those items are optional. Don’t get hung up on them.
Must have bare bones basics:
- A well-conditioned healthy horse ready for the job.
- A saddle that fits.
- Saddle pad.
- Lead rope.
- A way to get there.
- Someplace dry and warm to sleep.
- Hay & feed.
- Electroltyes (dependent on humidity and the needs of your horse)
- A waterproof sheet for your horse is nice in case of a cold rain.
- A way to get back home.
- Ground manners, a good go and whoa on your horse.
- A sense of humor.
- Your entry fee.
Optional things you will see people with, but are not a deal breaker if you just want to dip your feet into the pond rather than jump off the deep end.
- Heart rate monitor. Nice to have, a great tool for conditioning, and gauging fitness and recovery, but those folks standing around at the pulse gate have one. You don’t have to. HRM/optional.
- A three horse goose neck with air and awning (and a fifteen year mortgage). Again, nice! If you can do it, more power to. But think of the dollars you might save with simplicity. Those dollars might get you to more rides, and leave your bank account less stressed as well. A bumper pull can get you there, and so can a ride with a friend. So that big trailer? Optional.
- $3000 flavor of the month saddle. Yep! That thing is sure pretty. $3000 buys a whole lot of hay…if your saddle fits the pretty one is definitely optional. If you do decide to upgrade, try to purchase one with a vendor who loans out a demo saddle (usually with a fee until returned).
- Custom corral or hi-ties for your trailer. Truth is those are pretty good to have, but as long as you have a way of securing or containing your horse, you can get the job done. A home-made electric corral (if your horse respects electric) is good, or being tied to the trailer if your horse is not one that pulls back (and has over nighted that way before back will work too).
- Pretty biothane tack. If you need tack, go ahead and buy your favorite color. If you have a bridle that has worked for 500 conditioning miles, it’s going to work just fine at an actual ride.
- That $300 saddle pad. No lie…they are getting close to that figure. My hope is you don’t need it. If your horse’s back shows no soreness after a 20 mile conditioning ride, the pad you used for that will most likely get the job done again. If you are having issues, try to borrow one of those expensive pads for one ride before socking down the $ for one.