Preparing for Spring

Angel, our lovely grey (white) quarter horse, is starting to shed.  Everyone that’s ridden her in a lesson this past week has had to groom their own clothing after grooming her, the white hairs stick to everything!  While it’s still awfully cold and I really think she should hold on to her hair a bit longer, the good news is that the days ARE getting longer.  And that means spring is on the way… sooner or later.

In the meantime, we have lots to do to get ready!  We are getting tired of the dark, the cold, the many layers of clothing, and heaving layers of blankets on and off the horses. We’re sick of picking and prying ice balls out of their shoes and waiting for shaggy horses to dry before they can go back outside after their rides.  It’s hard to stay motivated this time of year.  This is important training time though.  We need to keep ourselves and our horses fit as best we can through this tough time, and keep working on improving our skills.  We listen to music in the indoor arena so we don’t feel so cooped up, and we work on exercises to prepare us for the show ring this spring to keep us feeling inspired.

On the days it is just too darn cold to ride, there are other things we need to do to get ready.  Anyone that wants to show this spring needs to join or renew their memberships with the USDF, USEF, and IDCTA.  Horses that want to earn awards also need memberships, as well as making sure all breed registrations and memberships are up to date.  All the horses need new 2009 coggins.  Riders need to start reviewing the tests they want to ride in the spring, start memorizing, and make notes about which parts they will need to work on over the next few months.  Also, riders at my barn that want to ride the trails this spring need to join the Riding Club of Barrington Hills, and, depending what trails they want to ride, get a Cook County trail permit.  Both of these will get you a bridle tag your horse needs to wear when on the trails.

The most fun part of preparing for riders is deciding what show clothes/tack they have that still fits and is ready to wear, and what they need.  Then… shopping!!!  You have time, make your list, then hit the sales at the tack shops and online.  No reason not to get good deals on everything if you do it carefully over the winter!

It’s always good to have multiple of everything in case of horse slobber, dirty horse, unplanned dismounts, and sweat.  Here’s a short show attire list:

  • Dress Boots
  • White Breeches
  • Show Coat
  • Show Shirt
  • Stock Tie
  • Stock Pin
  • Helmet
  • White Gloves

Most of the tack you use on a daily basis should be fine, there’s no need to buy a saddle or bridle only for shows.  If you find a sale, stock up on leather care products (soap, conditioner, sponges, etc) to keep your everyday tack nice enough to use in shows.   Depending on the condition that your saddle pads are in, a clean white pad may be a good purchase. 

Another rainy (or bitter cold) day activity is to review the USEF Rule Book at and make sure you know and understand all the rules, and that all the equipment you plan to use is legal.

Happy Winter!

4 thoughts on “Preparing for Spring

  1. White breeches? Must I? (Cringes)

    Could I get away with a light khaki/stone color breech, if I’m doing the lover levels?

    Also, for a lower level rider who is, um, still working on steady hands, are black gloves OK?


    – Sarah

  2. Hi Sarah!

    Yes, you could do both light khaki breeches and black gloves. Per the rule book, the required dress is “white or light-colored breeches” and “gloves of conservative color” for training through fourth levels! White is most commonly seen, but other variations are acceptable, and especially at intro or training level, you won’t be the only one doing that.

    However, Diamond has been hoping to work on those hands of yours… maybe someday soon he will get his chance? I overheard him and Jag talking in the pasture the other day… 😉


  3. hi… wow i have an ex OTTB mare also… though I dont show her but rather my qhorse. perish the thought of white breeches.. my trainer says for usn’s to go with the khaki or a light olive color.

    here where we’re gonna go ride here pretty soon in b-r-r-r montana

  4. Spring may feel like it’s a long way off but mud can be just as messy as shedding and I love your list of equestrian apparel worth having on hand. I’m sure most of us have experienced a friendly nudge from our horse that left us slimed and less than attractive for the remainder of our time at a show, losing us precious points — not to mention adding to our stress level. How simple, then, to add the extra show coat, riding boots, riding breeches and other details of our riding apparel to our bag of show equipment. Thanks for the list!

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