The dilemma that so many equestrians face in their life with horses is not always to do with finding stabling or riding in events, as those issues are easily solved for most of us. The big issue seems to be... “how do I store all my stuff?”
Some horse owners may have a messy house or bedroom but when it comes to the stables these are squeaky clean and beautifully organised, but for others the perplexing question of how to store the mountain of gear associated with horse ownership continues.
I am very far from an OCD Martha Stewart domestic goddess, therefore my storage system needs to be easy so I can maintain the tidiness and order! Never fear equestrians, I’ve scoured the web, asked the experts and spent some time finding some fabulous and cost-effective storage ideas for you!
Why is it important to have tack well organised?
For this I asked Hayley Beresford, Australian dressage rider and trainer, currently based in Germany.
“For me an organised tack room is important. In our stable we are two riders with 22 horses in training between us. Everything has its place (well is supposed to) and we can find what we need when we need it (most of the time). I have had-and seen- quite a few tack rooms on my journey to our current stables at Eisenrr Hof as I’ve grown up in my profession, starting from a little corner in a tin shed when I was a kid to glamorous and totally impractical spaces that look good but bring nothing to the effectiveness of getting through our work, to this one. We have a lot of storage and quite a few spaces. We have a section that is only for medical, freezer/fridge for ice boots and snacks, and all horses have their own bridle place. But perhaps, for me, the most important is that our dogs have their own place and, of course, there is a coffee machine available.”
There are so many options for stable storage, just where do we start? Perhaps with determining first, where is the best place to store your gear. It’s important to have a designated space for your tack, whether it be a proper tack room, a corner of the shed, the front of your float or even your car!
Let’s start with the big ticket items like saddles, which are normally one of our most expensive items of tack so they definitely need to be well looked after. Saddles need good support when stored or not in use.
There is a huge range of ready-made saddle racks available, ranging from ones that are decorative pieces of furniture through to the simple wire fold-down racks. Many of these bolt to the stable wall to hold your saddle so a safe, secure area must first be found, ensuring it’s not getting direct sunlight, under a leaky roof or too available if someone decides they can just walk in and help themselves.
NIFTY SADDLE STORAGE
One very nifty idea I came across while researching this topic was using 20L feed buckets that were attached to the wall, the saddle sits on top and then the inside of the bucket can be used to hold items such as helmets or brushes. If using plastic buckets then it may pay to cut a circle of wood out to fit in the bottom before screwing to the wall, to give added stability. Another tip I got from a few people was to cover the bucket in some felt or none-slip material so that the saddle doesn’t slide off.
What if you don’t have a wall that you can attach things to? Something as simple as saw-horses that can be bought from your local hardware store are the perfect size to hold saddles. Or maybe you are a little bit handy? If soyou could make your own saddle stand up. I’ve seen some great ones made of poly pipe, and this is very simple to pop together yourself ... just use your imagination! Or do you need to move your saddles around? If so, a furniture (sack) trolley with a saddle rack attached to it, some hooks on the back for bridles and a crate on the bottom for your other items.
COMMERCIAL OR D.I.Y.
Saddlery stores have a range of products for storage of all your gear or you can think outside-of-the-box and visit a storage centre, hardware or discount store or somewhere like Ikea, where you can find some fabulous and innovative storage items. Last year I bought some under bed storage bags from Aldi, with the plan to store my shoes (my other obsession!). But you know what? They are the perfect size to hold saddle pads, so I store my show saddle pads and keep them clean when taking to shows.
Shoe storage products are actually super items for tack storage. The hanging ones with multiples pockets are perfect for storing all your grooming needs, or for holding brushing boots, bandages and bell boots.
Speaking of brushing boots, this idea is just fabulous. Using a stable wall or even an old door, glue strips of Velcro to the surface, then you can attach your boots to it; keeps them all in one place. Or do you have an old wine rack that no longer suits the decor in your house? Pop it in the tack room and it’s another great storage rack for those brushing boots.
One of the best ideas I found on Pinterest, that we have implemented in our barn at the stables, is a first aid cabinet made from an old fridge. Not long ago someone at our stables was kicked in the face and arm by a horse, a freak accident that saw us running around grabbing towels for the blood and vetwrap for the arm wound. Of course all our medical stuff was not in stored in the one place. Now we have an old fridge that had stopped working; the fridge section is full of all the equine medical needs, the shelves hold bandages, poultices, and that sort of stuff. Then all the creams and bottles of things are in the door. The top freezer part then holds all the human medical items; band aids, panadol, you know, the important things! We got some big stickers to label it ‘human’ and ‘equine’ with the first aid symbols as well. The added bonus is that the fridge is of course sealed, keeping out moisture, dust and vermin.
On to saddle pads!
Whether you own one or a hundred, they can be difficult to store. I use a rug rack that is bolted on to the upright in our barn, it’s perfect for hanging my pads, and convenient to grab them quickly. But there are lots of other options. Skirt hangers are great for holding saddle pads, then you can use an old wardrobe, or affix a rail up to then hang them from. I have seen lots of people use those portable type wardrobes made from a metal frame with plastic or fabric outer, they are quite cheap from department stores.
Large plastic storage boxes also make for good pad storage, allowing you to keep them flat. Ikea makes trouser hanging racks that would be perfect for saddle pads, old free-standing towel racks or clothes airers would also be perfect!
The local hardware store is a great place for a huge range of hooks. Affixed to a wall, you can set up a great system to keep all your bridles, halters and lead ropes and all sorts of other things hung up neatly and all on their own hooks. If you want to keep the shape of your bridle, sawn off pieces of round logs attached to the wall are a cheap alternative to those fancy ones that you see at the horse shops.
Now remember I told you I have a handy husband? Well I am very lucky to have my very own custom-made tack wardrobe. This was made to my measurements to hold my two horses’ everyday gear. So their dressage saddles with work bridles and then drawers holding all my bandages, boots, brushes, helmet, gloves etc.
I am time limited when I ride, so good STORAGE makes getting my horses ready to ride super quick!
But if you’re not lucky enough to have a handyman, then keep an eye out on Gumtree or your local verge collection for an old clothes wardrobe, you can then add a saddle rack and hooks to make your own. I’ve even seen one made from an old computer server racking cupboard and an industrial fridge.
I really have just scratched the surface on what’s possible when organising your tack, so just put your thinking cap on, hit up Pinterest or the web and find some great ideas that work for you.
We’d love to see any ideas you’ve come up with, or any you have for how to store gear when travelling to shows. Please feel free to share them with us via messages to Hoofbeats or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. How you manage your storage is of interest to all readers.
ONLINE TOPICS by Dr Jennifer Stewart
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