How much time does it take you to get your horse tacked up, get yourself ready, and get into the arena and start riding? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? An hour?
For a long time, this wasn’t something I would really think to much about. That is until I started taking riding lessons. And then I was paying for my time with a lesson horse. So I made sure to be very careful with my time. I think this really helped me to learn to appreciate the time I had with riding even more.
So much so that I took what I learned from my lessons home with me when I get my own horse ready to ride. And my goal is to help you save some time while you are getting your horse ready to ride too! And that is what today is all about for the August challenge day number 5, Tacking up faster.
Tacking Up Faster
We are all busy, I get that. And time is the single most precious commodity on this planet. We are all equal in the eyes of the clock. So I like to use my time wisely, and make the most of it. This is something I always think about when getting ready to ride.
Instead of getting my horse first, I have found it is better if I get everything I need first, and then get my horse.
It can be a little challenging with Plezant, because he is usually right in front of the gate when I come out to the barn. He really is adorable, but I don’t want him nibbling on my saddle, or his bridle for that matter. So the first thing I do is clean their stalls, and then Plezant usually is happy to go in and wait for me.
Frisby knows he isn’t going to be ridden, so he happily comes in. I will usually groom him for a little bit, apply some fly spray and give him a few treats.
I like doing it this way because then my chores are pretty much done. And I don’t have to do them after I am tired from riding.
Get What You Need To Ride First
This is easy tonight. I have already organized everything in the tack room, from the other day in the challenge. See why I did that first? It makes it a lot easier to find everything if it is always in it’s place.
The first thing I do is grab a saddle pad that I throw over the hitching post. I used to use my homemade portable saddle rack, but Plezant tends to move around a little bit when I am tacking him up. And I would hate for him to bump into it, spook himself and either get hurt, or toss my saddle. Hopefully soon I can start using my portable rack, it makes things a little easier.
But once I have a saddle pad over the hitching post, I uncover my saddle, grab a girth, bridle, and ear bonnet and take them out too. I usually come back for a saddle pad, and half pad because it’s easier doing it in a couple of trips. The hitching post is 10 steps away from the little barn, so it’s not like I have to go too far.
Next I’ll grab my grooming tote, fly spray and riding helmet.
And next I get my boots, gloves, the riding crop, and a halter.
I double check to make sure I have everything ready to go before I get Plezant from his stall. Then I get a pocket full of treats, grab the halter and go get Plezant back out of his pen.
Time wise, this takes me about 5 minutes. (Or 15 minutes when I am trying to film this process for a video) Not too bad for getting set up and prepared to ride.
The Tacking Up Process
The tacking up process goes pretty fast now that I have everything already gathered and ready to go. And I have been grooming Plezant daily for the last several weeks, so getting him brushed and clean actually goes quickly too.
I don’t spend a lot of time grooming before I tack him up, because I don’t need too. I’ll pick out his hooves, run some oil into his mane and tail, and then brush him.
And of course, I have to apply some fly spray to keep the pesky boogers away. The flies can be relentless during the summer. And while the fly spray isn’t fool proof, it does help to keep my horse more comfortable.
Then I brush through his mane and tail, clean his face, and nose. Next I grab my horse chap stick. Seriously, I do. It’s actually called Bit Butter and it works like chap stick for horses. I rub it on the corners of Plezant’s mouth as well as the edges of the bit. It helps to soften the skin, and I think he likes the way it tastes. So getting him to open up for the bit is easier.
Next I put on his saddle pads, and martingale if I am using one and then the girth. I will usually just snug up the girt a little. I never tighten it all the way until we get out to the arena.
And before I put on his bridle, I put my boots and my helmet on and then the bonnet, and finally the bridle.
Tacking Up Faster
The entire tacking up process takes around 10 minutes. Well, to be precise, it took me 12 minutes and 38 seconds. Not very long right? From getting everything that I need ready, to getting Plezant, and having him dressed and ready to ride, is about 12 minutes.
Then we go out to the arena, have our fun for an hour or so, and then we come back to where it all started.
Planning Is Key
The most important part of being able to get tacked up this quickly is not just what you do before you ride, but more importantly to put everything away, where it belongs in anticipation of the next ride. This is the most important step to being able to be more efficient for your next ride. And sometimes this can be the hardest thing to do! Especially if you are tired, and just want to go in. But really, if you want to make it easy on yourself, put everything back where it lives once you are done riding.
So after he is cooled out, and untacked, he will get a more thorough grooming. Then he gets tucked in for the night, and I grab their feed buckets and hay nets. And while they are happily munching on their dinner, I put all of my stuff away.
Tacking Up Faster
While I am putting everything away, I clean my tack, and boots. The bit gets wiped down with a homemade bit wipe before it is hung up on its hanger. And my saddle gets the same treatment, a quick wipe down, or a little more thorough cleaning before it gets covered and set back on it’s rack.
The girth gets cleaned too. And I never keep my girth laying across the top of my saddle. The girth gets sweaty, and the sweat and dirt can hurt my saddle. So I hang the girth on a dollar store hanger (this works GREAT for hanging girths!) and clean both sides of the girth.
Once all of my tack is put away, I reorganize the grooming tote, and put away all that’s left and then fill some hay nets for the next day, if they need to be filled and sweep the floor one last time.
Looking into the tack/feed barn one last time before I close up the little red barn, and seeing everything is put in it’s place is a very happy and satisfying feeling for me.
The clean up after riding takes a little more effort, and a little extra time. But tomorrow, it will be worth it when I can repeat the process again. And this is what helps me to be successful in riding, or working with my horses in the evenings. And well actually, whenever I decide to work with them.
Getting Started Is The First Step
If you are going to go through this challenge for August, I highly encourage you to get your tack room organized as the first step. It will make the time you spend with your horse more rewarding, and fun! And we all want to enjoy the time we have with our horses, right?
That was a pretty full evening right?!?!? That is what my evenings usually look like, especially when the weather is good. And if you are following along with my daily videos, I have that for you too.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for another day in the August challenge! I hope you are having as much fun as I am doing it!