With temperatures dropping, equestrians around the country are packing up in preparation for their annual escape to the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. While some will only stay for a week or two, many riders spend months on the showgrounds which can make the logistics of packing a bit tricky. With the help of the team at Draper Therapies, we have rounded up our top ten tips for preparing for a winter away at Wellington.
1) Pack for All Seasons
You never know what weather you are going to get in Florida. The obvious items to pack are things like sunshirts, sunscreen and a nice wide brim hat to protect you from the sun’s rays. While the whole point of wintering in Wellington is to avoid the colder temps, it isn’t uncommon to happen upon a cold snap some mornings. Be sure that, in addition to your warm-weather apparel, you are packing a variety of clothing including rain gear and sweaters for those chillier mornings. And don’t forget your Draper Therapy stable sheets to get your four-legged friend through those nippy nights.
2) BYOH: Bring Your Own Hay
With hay running $20 a bale and up in Florida, it can save you a ton of money to ship your own hay to Florida for the extent of your stay. It is not uncommon to see some barns making multiple trips prior to shipping their horses down just to stock up on hay. If you are not filling every stall in your trailer, use that empty space as a means to transport additional hay when you go.
3) A Mode of Transportation
The showgrounds at the Palm Beach International Equestrian center are HUGE. Make plans for how you will get around the grounds when you are not on a horse. Is your barn bringing or renting a golf cart? Do you have a scooter that is making the trip? If not, consider bringing a bike! Bikes are a great, low-impact way to zip around the sprawling campus. If bringing a bike is not an option, be sure you pack a pair of comfortable shoes for the days when you will be hoofing it.
Pro tip: Slap a monogram or logo on your bike or scooter to make sure others don’t mistake it for their own.
4) To Over-pack or Overpay, that is the Question.
WEF is packed with vendors so you have the opportunity to purchase just about anything you might need… but at a price. If you are trying to be budget conscious during your winter away, err on the side of caution. It may be better to over-pack in the beginning so you don’t have to overpay later on in the season. So go ahead and toss that third hoof pick in your grooming kit, you never know when you might need it!
5) Pack ALL the Snacks
Just like the merchandise, the food on the show grounds also sports a pretty price tag. Make a quick trip to your favorite grocery store and stock up on snacks or quick meal options to get you through your trip. Then you can save up and splurge on one or two good meals a week if you want!
6) Plenty of Power
Invest in a couple of barn-safe power strips and extension cords that you can toss in your tack trunk for when you are on the road. No matter where you are, there never seem to be enough plug-ins at the barn. With a decent sized power strip you can charge your phone, run your fans, crank up your clippers and jam along to your favorite tunes without skipping a beat.
7) Color Coordinate
When you are practically moving into a new place for months, it’s easy for stuff to seemingly grow legs and disappear. By keeping all of your belongings one color (and possibly monogramming all of your goods because #whynot) it will be easier to identify your belongings when it’s time to load everything back up for the trek home.
On the topic of things wandering off, it is wise to have a master list of everything you have taken on your trip with you so that packing up for the trip home goes a lot smoother. Be sure to add anything on that you have purchased during the trip to make sure it makes it on the trailer as well! Four sets of standing wraps? Check. Ten different ear bonnets? Got ’em. Six bags of horse cookies? Oh yeah… all of those are gone.
9) Stop by the Dollar Store
These equestrian hacks can truly save the day, and it doesn’t hurt that they are budget friendly as well. Stock up on the following items for quick barn fixes that won’t break the bank:
- Baby wipes– they can literally be used on EVERYTHING but are especially good for those last minute show ring touch-ups.
- Baby powder- brings some shine to your horse’s chrome accents and can help keep your tall boots smelling fresh!
- Zip ties- Trust me, zip ties are a must. They are practically a fix-all for everything. Grab a variety pack, I promise you will use them.
- Soft toothbrushes- Clean all the hidden nooks and crannies your tack with a soft toothbrush!
- Cotton balls- Like zip ties, cotton balls are another fix-all that is a necessity in your tack box!
- Diapers- Hopefully you won’t need these bad boys while you are away for the winter, but on the off chance your horse suffers from an abscess while you are there, you will be thankful you had a handful at the ready.
10) Prepare to Care for Yourself
Sometimes in the chaos of making sure our horses are taken care of, we put ourselves on the back burner. Do your research ahead of time and find local services that you will enjoy. Consider signing up for a gym, seek out and secure local tutoring services, ask your friends about quiet places to grab a coffee and work, and go out and enjoy local hangout spots that are offsite from the showgrounds. Many equestrians suffer from major burnout at the end of the winter season. Combat that feeling by trying to live as normal of a life as possible while you are away.