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.
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.
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?