Which system is easy to work with? In which could you move readily and find things instantly? Which would be easy to keep clean?
How is it that the best grooms never rush while their horses are always impeccably turned out and workspaces are tidy? Doesn’t that take more work? It may seem logical that the quickest route is the most direct, but this is often not the case. It is actually easier and faster to do things properly, once. Tossing things in a hurry just means you: need to move them out of the way or to where they belong later; look for them instead of instantly laying your hands on them when needed; and, fix issues that could be avoided. Not to mention, you run the increased risk of injury, lameness and missing your class.
The goal is to work efficiently. Time management is fundamental to sound horsemanship. If you think ahead, organize, and prepare, you’ll have plenty of time. It’s amazing. Systems rule. So, let’s consider setups and routines that will ultimately save you time and energy.
Streamline tack cleaning with a small bucket of clean water and a sponge hung near soap and a tack hook.
If you need to keep moving, digging through, or untangling things, you are wasting energy. Grooming stalls of the great horsemen are never dirty. They just get dusted and swept. It may initially take an extra step to return items to their proper places, but doing so makes the whole process faster. Everything is readily available and where it belongs.
When tack, pads, bandages and/or boots are dirty, they get placed into drying or cleaning systems. Bridles go on the tack hook, hung far from horses’ eyes. After cleaning, they are tied up and hung or stored. Saddles are also put away as they are cleaned. Polo bandages hang to dry before being brushed, cleaned and rolled. Boots go into a bucket before being brushed or washed. Run a rope across the back and sides of grooming stalls to hang towels, pads and boots to dry.
I use other buckets as well, including a small bucket of clean water in the grooming stall for wiping the horse’s face, and a big bucket of clean water outside so horses can drink when returning from work. Of course, you want to keep horses walking if nostrils are flaring.
When packing for a show, assemble trunks to correlate with how you will use things. For instance, since it will not be used first, a rain sheet goes at the bottom of a trunk. Store your equipment in the order you will need it, and group implements by subject as well. For instance, you’ll want separate boxes for hardware, medicine and equipment/tack.
Well-run barns always post a daily work list and time schedule so everyone knows who does what when. This way, there is no lag time wondering when and which horse goes next. The morning routine is clearly outlined. People are pre pared. Horses are ready on time. Barn chores are completed before anyone mounts. Otherwise, things don’t get done, or there is a lot of rushing, which is unsettling to horses and riders. Winning starts with a schedule.
When shipping into one-day shows, the same principles apply. As you think about packing what you’ll need, plan your work area as well. Don’t underestimate the value of hooks, saddle racks, shelves, buckets, brooms, muck buckets and trash bags. Get set up first thing in the morning. Prepare buckets for drinking water, bathing and tack. Hang hooks for bridles and clothes. Pull out the bridles, pads, etc. Establish a grooming area near the saddle rack, tack hook and cleaning station. Leave the bathing halter and lead rope on the tack hook so you can switch it with the bridle. That way, as horses come back from work, the equipment moves through a system rather than getting strewn around. Remember to order items as you’ll use them. Make a habit of keeping trunks closed and trash in receptacles. Looking like you have it together is key to making it true.
Everyone should understand that common areas are to stay clear of debris. Personal items should remain in cars, trunks and bags, not visible to others. Each person is responsible for organizing their own items and keeping them out of the way. Messy is very unprofessional.
Thinking ahead is the key to success. Organize your time and equipment. If everything has a place and gets put where it belongs, the day can run smoothly, and it can be more enjoy- able and gratifying. Plus, equipment will last longer, horses stay sounder, and everyone can be levelheaded enough to relax, focus and win! Do things like the top pros, and see how much easier it is to succeed.
Ruthann Smith has spent a lifetime studying sound horsemanship- both as a groom for top international horses and as a renowned braider. Quietly twisting manes atop a ladder, she watched and learned in some of the best stables in the world.
As her passion for great grooming grew, Ruthann became focused on researching, collecting and sharing the best practices of the world’s keenest horsemen. Ultimately, Ruthann used her vast experience to develop exceptional equine grooming products to help raise the bar of horsemanship.
The knowledge she dispenses and the products Ruthann developed solve age-old grooming issues. Making quality horse care easier, they have received the highest honors in the equine industry*. Her Lucky Braids for Top Turnout coat care and braiding products are the best, most versatile, cost-effective and easiest solutions available on the market today.
Now Ruthann offers her LOVE, LOVE Guarantee. If not totally thrilled with a product she developed, Ruthann will refund you in full, regardless of where you purchased it.
It’s her life’s mission to empower horses by educating, motivating and equipping their people to be true horsemen. You can access Ruthann’s tips at: The Grooming Resource on LuckyBraids.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and her Horsemanship Clinics.
*After testing 350 products, Lucky Braids All-In-One Horse Shampoo was named product of the year by Horse Journal, the “Consumer Reports” of the industry. They also named Lucky Braids Shampoo and Top Pick for greys and whites. Lucky Braids specialized braiding yarn also got stellar reviews.