Splitting my time between the jumper ring and eventing has made my collection of equestrian goods… grow. Rapidly. As in, suddenly, I had more stuff than my trunk could accommodate, and I found myself tossing stuff in and out of my trunk every other weekend as I bounced from show to show. While I don’t take my XC boots to a jumper show, I have found that there are several items that serve an important purpose no matter what ring I am riding in that week. Looking to simplify your tack trunk preparation before the winter circuit starts? Look no further. I’ve listed my twelve must-haves here to make preparing your packing checklist just a little bit easier.

Photo by Alissa King / JN

12. Zip Ties

Seriously, these little buggers come in handy for almost everything. I hang them on the stall bars to clip my buckets to, I use them to put up my wrap holders, sometimes I have to use them to hold my life together (or often times it feels that way hahaha). Zip ties are multi-purpose and super beneficial to keep a bag or two around during show season.

11. Spray Bottle

Whether you go old school like me and just keep an alcohol concentrate in it (no, not THAT kind of alcohol… all though… that could work) or you have a preferred liniment of choice, a spray bottle is a super useful tool to keep around. I like to keep a mix of rubbing alcohol and water in mine for keeping legs cool and clean before I wrap them for the day.

10. Gloves (And more than one pair)

I may or may not have four different pairs of gloves in my trunk, but hear me out! I have my schooling gloves, which are a bit worn, but great for my warm-up rides. I have my winter gloves, which you definitely need on those chillier days. And I have my two pairs of show gloves because one pair is ALWAYS going to go missing right when you need them. Try to keep at least two sets of gloves handy for those hectic show days, and do your best not to wind up with two right hands! Also, if you like to apply poultice or hoofpack, it is always nice to have some disposable gloves in your trunk for those messy applications!

9. Feed Baggies

I have found that the easiest way to make sure my horse is getting exactly what they need is to prepare each meal ahead of time in ziplock bags. I label each bag AM or PM and include the supplements or medications that each horse might need while away from home. This keeps me from toting large bags of feed and supplement containers around at each show. Trusty tip- I make two or three extra baggies just in case we have issues, and our stay is extended longer than planned.

8. Plenty of Hairnets

Similar to gloves, hairnets seem to just disappear into thin air. Depending on how frequently I am showing, I may exhaust a hairnet after two to three shows. I try to keep two used hairnets and one new, still in the package one in my trunk at all times. This will keep me from running around last-minute sporting a brown hairnet that I borrowed because I lost my blonde one for the umpteenth time (it only took me three times of this happening to take up stock in hairnets).

7. Wraps and Boots Galore

Depending on your individual horse’s needs, it is wise to keep a variety of wraps and boots at your disposal. For my jumper mare, I like to keep a full set of jumping boots, as well as a pair of brushing boots for hand-walking, and quilts and standing bandages for wrapping at night. For my eventer, of course, I tend to have more boots on hand. Maybe you need shipping boots, ice boots, or therapy boots that you like to use? Consider all of the ways you want to protect and care for your horse’s legs while away and be prepared.

6. Your Helmet

This should go without saying, but I can be kind of forgetful, so always make sure you are ready to #mindyourmelon and pack your helmet. I have a schooling and showing helmet, but to save room in my trunk, I just like to take my showing helmet when I am heading off to a show. I also find the best place to store number eight on this list, an abundance of hairnets, is by keeping one in my ring bag, one in my grooming box, and one tucked away safely with my helmet!

5. Basic Tools

Now I don’t have a full-fledged toolkit in my trunk, but I do keep it stocked with the essentials. I can always put a hammer, an adjustable wrench, and a staple gun to good use while at the shows. Think about how many times you have arrived at the show grounds to find your stall full of staples or nails that you need to remove? My hammer has come in handy for much more than just hanging up tack drapes! And the adjustable wrench is not only great for putting studs in, but it also is beneficial when dealing with loose parts around the stalls.

4. Additional Grooming Supplies

We all keep a curry and some brushes on hand, but as the owner of a gray, I know the importance of having QuickSilver at my disposal as well! There are tons of grooming products out there, and it all comes down to personal preference, but you can always find QuickSilver, QuickColor (for bathing my dark horse), QuickBraid, baby powder, and Cowboy Magic in my tack trunk. Oh, and that alcohol solution I mentioned earlier comes in handy for cooling down hot horses at the ring as well!

It is also wise to keep some grooming supplies for yourself stashed away in your trunk too. While I have been guilty of brushing my own hair with my horse’s mane and tail brush in the past, I currently keep my own brush, a travel-sized deodorant, some chapstick, boot polish, a Tide to-go pen, and sunscreen in a little container to make sure I am show ring ready.

3. An Extra Phone Charger

I am embarrassed to say that this is even a necessity, but it is! Between texting my husband, updating social media, responding to work emails, and calling my trainer for updates when she is ringside, my phone battery dwindles fairly quickly. Keeping an extra phone charger or a battery pack on hand can be a lifesaver when you are down to the wire and only have 1% battery life left!

2. A First Aid Kit

So maybe you really need two kits, although I have been known to doctor up my own ouchies with vet wrap before, so perhaps you could get by with one. Accidents and horses go hand-in-hand, so it is important to have everything you might need if your horse were to need immediate care. I keep a first aid kit for humans in my trunk for safe measure, as well as a tackle box filled with horse care essentials such as needles and syringes, vet wrap and gauze, Betadine solution, and any medications I might need. Your preparedness can save a horse’s life!

1. Backup Tack

One of the most important things you can keep on you at all times is backup pieces of tack. Call me paranoid, but the minute I forget an extra noseband, my horse is going to break theirs! Whether you are keeping full bridles or just bits and bobs of easily replaceable pieces, it is important to be ready for whatever might come your way. I carry a couple of bits in case I need to make a quick bit switch, an extra bridle, and backups for any other essentials that I can not ride without. Even if you just store these extras in your trailer, for the time being, having them on the property can keep you in the saddle and out of the pop-up tack shop spending your hard-earned cash!