Having had time to sort out all my notes, pictures and brochures, and take it all in, I can now manage a slightly less dazzled report.
First there were the things I really really really want but can’t justify at the moment, such as a Fairfax saddle.
These looked absolutely sumptious, and if their report of an improvement in the range of the shoulders coming up over a fence of between 17 and 26 degrees (measured by Gait Analysis tools), when using a Fairfax girth and a Fairfax saddle, is true, then that is seriously impressive, and something I definitely want to try.
For myself, as safety-nut I loved the Charles Owen “Four Star” helmet (which was supposed to have its big launch at Badminton last year, so seems to have slipped onto the market rather unheralded, which is a shame), which meets all 4 of the top international testing criteria (PAS, Snell, BSEN and ASTM), has improved crush resistance, plastic cups in the harness at the back for enhanced stability, and air inlets in the front. I tried one on and it felt no more bulky than my usual HS1, and very comfortable.
I’d add Bionic gloves, which felt perfect, and Tuffa Derby boots for the yard, and the fancy new Mark Todd boots for competitions, at the top of my list. All looked fantastic.
But what about the smaller, more reasonably-priced items which will make day-to-day work with horses easier all round?
The range of KBF99 brushes and yard tools from Vale Brothers is top of my list. They are well-designed, come in a variety of colours, and the plastic they are made from is anti-bacterial and anti-viral, proven to kill the strangles bacterium, for example. What a great idea.
The Good Hood from Harpley Equestrian is the solution to a dangerous problem I have witnessed unfold. Having turned out a horse in a full neck stretchy hood with eye holes, I watched him roll vigorously, get up… and his hood had moved enough that both of his eyes were totally covered with fabric. Fortunately he stood stock still as I ran back across the paddock to him, calling his name to reassure him, grabbed him, and took the offending hood off. I dread to think what might have happened if he’d panicked, or if he’d waited till later to roll. So, I loved this design of full hood, which cannot shift to cover the eyes.
The same company makes a fabric ‘Bobhat’ to sit under a crash cap and keep the ears warm. I like the idea of having a few of these, so I can wash them in rotation – spray-on hat cleaners never totally convince me that they make everything perfectly clean and fresh!
German firm Bruno Gelle has improved hugely on the poo-picking scoop, with a far stronger plastic and an extended handle that braces against the forearm. This will be perfect for my twice-daily poo-picking forays.
They also make what looks like a huge piece of brown lego, to fix to stable or shelter walls or to fence posts for horses to scratch against, which my youngster in particular would just love!
The Roll-tack is a great design for anyone who transports their tack and grooming kit in the car. Lightweight and easily moveable, it holds 1 saddle with room to stow quite a lot of kit underneath it, and is strong enough to use as a mounting block too. Great thinking.
A simple design, no more dropped hats (eek) or bits of grooming kit when trying to carry everything from car to stable.
Tayberry’s lovely tweed, with touches of a warm berry colour, was something else which really caught my eye.
There were thousands of other desirable things, and I might need a substantial lottery win to indulge myself and my horses with all the things I really wanted, but for a more modest outlay I think I can set us up for this season!