It is getting ever closer to the kick off to the season and its about now you should be checking the rules and regulations to check all your kit complies. As a quick starter, I thought I would run through some essential kit and the checks that it needs before you start using it again.
1) Peakless Hat – New BE rule for 2015. If your hat looks like the one on the left then it might be time to get it changed, had your hat longer than 3 years then it might be time to get it changed. At E-Venting we have an amazing supporter in Champion and best of all their hats are PAS and BS EN standard which means you can carry on using them into 2016 as well. A hat not just for this year!
2) Body protector – No change in the rules here for 2015 but the foam in body protectors degrades. Last year I coughed up for a brand new body protector as mine was nearly ten years old. I can really notice the difference in the foam as technology and protection has moved on in that time. There really is no point in skimping in safety equipment as its designed to do a job.
3) Air Jackets – Some people love them, some people hate them. Whatever your preference, make sure you have had it tested before you start using it again. E-Venting sponsors Treehouse Sporting Colours recommend you get your jacket serviced every year, after 6 inflations or after a heavy fall. http://www.treehouseairjackets.co.uk/servicing
4) Cross Country Colours – The new technical fabrics are amazing. Choosing cross country colours is the one place you can have fun and buck the natural conservatism of Eventing! If you really want to go wild in your designs then here is a good place to let your creative flair show.
5) Gloves – I always wear gloves but again its rider preference. I purposely buy cross country gloves as they tend to cope better in the rain.
6) Spurs – Check your spurs are straight and that your spur straps are in good nick. Its easy for spur straps to degrade and for spurs to get bent.
7) Boots – check your boot zips are in good order, run a lead pencil up and down the zip as this will help the smooth running of the zip. Zips are fairly easy to get repaired now if yours does need replacing but now is the time to check as can often take a few weeks. Heel lifts are amazing if you have just bought new boots and are waiting for them to drop.
1) Bridles – Check your bridle has all the stitching in good order and none of it is becoming frayed. Particularly check your bit has not got any sharp edges and is not wearing away if a softer metal than stainless steel. There is nothing worse than a bit breaking on your cross country round. Check your reins are in good order and especially the billet hooks.
2) Breastplates – I am a traditionalist and would not consider going cross country without a breastplate. There is loads of choice so use one that fits in with the rest of your kit. Kate Negus saddlery make made to measure breastplates if your horse is particularly tricky to fit. I want one!
3) Saddles – Check all the stitching on your saddle, particularly around your buckles and your stirrup leathers. My choice is always stirrup leathers with a nylon core because they don’t stretch and are unlikely to snap. Like these ones. I also tend to get my saddle checked by the saddle fitter around now particularly the flocking to check its not lumpy or built up in one area.
4) Cross country boots – Check for any damage, fraying straps and that you have a pair! I tend to replace
over reach boots about now as they have often had a hammering over the winter. Air cooled and protective boots designed by N.E.W.
5) Studs – I am lousy at looking after my studs at the end of the season and then they look all rusty. So I admit I drop them in a cup of WD40 and that seems to do the trick. Its worth checking now what needs replacing in your stud kit. There is nothing worse than getting to an event to be missing something. We love Supastuds. They last, have tonnes of choice and they are easy to put in. Supastuds also are quick to post out. Studs galore here.
6) Ear Bonnets – I seem to have missed the memo that said they are now essential bits of kit. Call me old fashioned, call me lazy about having to clean something else and call me bling adverse but these have not made it onto my kit list yet as they don’t fulfil the criteria of essential or safety kit.
7) Saddle Cloth – I have had my Ecogold saddle cloth now for 3 seasons. I still love it, it washes brilliantly and it looks pristene. Even better if you sign up to the E-Venting newsletter you can get a discount on Ecogold stuff.
I think that is pretty much it for kit checking but if I have missed something essential or you disagree then please shout at me in the comments. Best of all if you are shopping for new kit then please click on the links of our lovely supporters and check out Supastuds, Kate Negus, Treehouse Sporting Colours, NEW Boots, Champion Hats and Ecogold Saddle Cloths.