Hey there!!!! So you want to know what my 5 vital accessories are that I just couldn’t event without??

I’m not sure if you will be underwhelmed, overwhelmed or just whelmed! (Who remembers 10 Things I Hate About You? what a classic!) That last comment may be lost on you if you haven’t seen it.

Ok so here goes! First thing to point out, I am not sponsored by any of these brands before you think this is a sales pitch. There are other things that I couldn’t event without such as my amazing County Saddles but these things are more “Accessories” that I think make a difference to my day and lessen the stress. If there is even one thing you can take away from this to incorporate into your eventing plan to make your life a little easier and less stressful then we are winning- right. I’d love for you to share with me if you learnt anything new.

1. Acavallo Gel Pad

Now, Jet, who you may or may not know, is my main event horse! He is a bit of a gun, but he is also terribly difficult to fit saddles to! Any of you in the same boat, with an oddly shaped pone, know what a pain in the B-hind that is! So firstly, obviously, I have to make sure said saddle is fitting. Then get it in exactly the right spot, (not 1mm too far forwards or back), then attempt to get the girth cranked up so tight that there is no way it will ever slip and perhaps also not let him breathe in the process.

Ok so obviously it isn’t realistic to hope that just having the girth tight enough will prevent the saddle moving- I tried that! And those of you with roly poly fat horses know that tight giths do not prevent slippage, the saddle can literally just slide upside down. This is where the Acavallo gel pad has saved my bacon. Generally speaking once I get the saddle where I want it and the girth, suitably tight, the saddle just doesn’t shift.

I put the Gel directly onto the horse’s back before the saddle pad, this stops everything slipping and actually wriggling at all. I was so impressed with these when I started using them with how flat the hair stayed once I removed the saddle, that now I use it on every single horse when I ride. If it helps the saddle from shifting even the smallest bit then great.

It also has other properties such as shock absorbing and helping to spread the pressure evenly on the back which is just a bonus if you ask me! Acavallo also have gel pads with front and back risers which is handy for those with one horse etc etc.

Definitely worth checking out. Note- not a replacement for a well fitting saddle. But that discussion is for another day.

Link To Acavallo Site ——>>>> HERE

2. LeMieux Acoustic Bonnet

Right well this one really was a game changer for me!! Being a lover of all thing OTT- of course I am often sitting on a horse that is horse shy (despite them being the same species- go figure). In my mind I feel as though horses that have raced should be less horse shy but there you have it, they are often very concerned with horse coming from behind, side, front and god forbid they jump a jump when you’re close to it!!

So as you can imagine (or you may well know from experiencing exactly the above) warm up areas can be a NIGHTMARE zone! Yes, horses will improve with outings and various calming pastes may help rada rada, but this is the first thing that deadset made a big difference with Jet! (Ok Jet again- the good ones are always tricky- or so I try to convince myself)

I wish in hindsight I had used this with Halo my event horse that I sold last year, he is much better in warm ups now after being out and about for 4 years but at the start he was just as bad as Jet. Showjumping and cross-country warm ups were basically places I did not go. I would stand on the edge and wait for an opening so I could quickly trot in and pop a jump before someone else would come in to approach me or a fence or anything.

The first two times I ever fell off Halo was in SJ warm up at an event because he pooped himself and spun quicker than I knew was possible. Thankfully he isn’t like that today! However Jet, that behaviour can’t yet be ruled out. Before I started using this bonnet I was pretty nervous to go into the warm up. Now he is almost a normal horse. Ok potentially if a horse jumps while I am jumping or towards him or canters very close he may explode a tiny bit (apologies in advance to those that may be in a warm up with us). But honestly to be able to warm up in a 20 x 60m enclosed arena jumping with 3 other riders is amazing.

You wouldn’t think it would make that much of a difference to visual triggers as it is only his ears that are covered but it honestly does. It is mental! This is a definite must try for horses that are hot, anxious, distracted etc etc in the warm up areas.

CLIKC HERE to check it out on their website

3. TRUST- Eggbutt Flexi Mullen Bit

SO I just looked up their website to find you the link and they have it called some rather strange Inno name- but regardless, same bit!

Again I came to find this bit because of, yes, you guess it Jet (insert emoji with eyes staring up)! Jet started off as a lovely soft mouthed boy, despite 9 years racing and did his first couple of events in an eggbutt french link snaffle. Once he started getting the idea of galloping across country he got a little stronger. Now this is another topic I would like to touch on at a later date {re horses getting strong cross-country} but for now we will continue with the less educated me.

So obviously I did what most people do, I go to the collection of bits I have hanging in my tack room and decide which stronger bit I will try. I went through a couple of bits that had served me well with Halo (also strong and rather speedy) the Stuuben winged 4 in 1 gag and the Flexible pelham- both really awesome bits but they just infact made him stronger and he wasn’t overly happy about them.

I can’t quite remember why I tried the Trust Flexi, I think it was for dressage initially, as he was not wanting to quite settle with the contact due to his sensitive mouth. This saw him accepting the contact quickly which in turn enabled our flatwork to improve. I then started to school jumping in the bit and he was so much happier. As the bit is so comfrtable in the mouth I am able to keep the contact and ask for a half halt without him getting super offended and throwing a narny.

This is a bit I now try on most horses that come to me either for schooling or OTTs for retraining especially those that don’t like to accept the contact. Some however just don’t really like it, whether it is just too chunky in their mouths, who knows. Remember horses are individuals!!

Actually before I sold Halo I rode him in this bit- the least strong bit I had ever jumped him in, I had the best xc round on him ever. Same as Jet he wasn’t offended by it when doing a half halt and I had more control. Another thing I wish I had learned years ago.

CLICK HERE to go to the bit on the Trust site

4. Leg Sticky Stuff

Aka Surf Wax!!! If you compete local to me at Tamborine in SE QLD, Aus then you may be lucky enough to receive some of Charlotte Price’s CPM Leg wax in one of the rider bags. This is effectively the same stuff that surfers rub all over their boards so that they stick to it and don’t slide off quite as easily. Well, heck! That’s what I am talking about! It frigging works guys! if you have a box of it at home and have never tried it- go try it in preparation for your next event. I tell you what I remember when the majority of the Pre-Novice tests you could rise trot then all of a sudden they stuck in a sitting trot test, I had not been practising and thought I was doomed. In panic mode I put the wax on my legs and my lord did it help keep me put, I started getting all cocky sit trotting around thinking I was a pro!! (Unlikely looked as good as I felt )

The main reason I use it today is for jumping, especially cross-country. Jet- yes him again, can jump ginormous and has an ability to fling me out of the saddle with hardly a swish of the tail. It fills me with a bit more confidence knowing at least there is slightly less chance of him finishing the course on his own! It does also take away a little bit of stress for the sitting trot if you don’t train 5 grand prix horses a day and have a butt of steel.

Either try out some surf wax or get in touch with Charlotte at CPM Equestrian and order some of hers- I think it is about $10 per box. CLICK HERE for CPM Sticky Stuff

5. My Phone

A bit random I know, but bear with me. Who has been literally about to walk off to warm up for dressage then have that panic moment of “Hang on do I turn Left or Right at C?”

Super important to make sure you have your dressage teast downloaded to your phone in the books or Adobe app, or even just a screenshot so that you can read through the test fifty times before you’re about to go. Now obviously you should know your test and should have had some practice prior to the day but sometimes blind panic can make you lose your entire memory. We have all been there. Knowing you have the test a click away can help settle your nerves.

Secondly the Cross-Country App!!! You should all download this!! It is super handy, not only taking photos of each of the jumps but mainly for working out your minute markers on cross-country without having to walk around with an old school measuring wheel (no disrespect to those stuck in the last decade). You do have to buy the App I think for approx $20 but it is totally worth it. Perhaps I should do a video on how to use the app, hmm would that be helpful?leave a comment. Although many of you will already know.

The downside is that often by the time you head to walk the course you have not realised your phone is running out of battery- argh. This results in running around the course early in the morning which I totally do not have time for. So try to plan ahead and charge it or purchase one of those portable battery chargers (ok I don’t have one and making a note right now to get one before the first event!!!)

So there you have it Y’all! Not sure why I am going all American on you. There are heaps of things I obviously can’t event without, but these items really make a difference to my day, my horse and my perfomance!!

If you haven’t already go and check out my Free Eventing Checklist which incorporates everything I pack. Just CLICK HERE!

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