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February 2014

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A Safe, Successful Eventing Season Starts in the Barn

You don’t need to be riding to improve your chances of success in the coming season, Jim explains.

Someone obviously waited too long before bringing these rubber reins in to be repaired. They can be recovered once, but after that they should be replaced. Every time rubber grips are stitched onto the leather, a new set of holes is created, which has the potential to dangerously weaken the reins.

January is the time of year when you can take care of things you don't have time to take care of the rest of the year. Your horse is just coming back into work, or maybe you're riding less because of bad weather, so your ability to practice shoulder-in or jumping related distances is limited. However, there are several things you can do now that will make the coming season enjoyable and, more importantly, safer for both you and your horse. The details I have in mind are not directly involved with your ability to sit the trot, but you will sit the trot with a great deal more peace of mind if you have taken care of some, or all, of the following suggestions.

Inspect Your Trailer
Your horse is your best friend, especially when he is thundering down to something that is bigger than anything you have ever seen before and it is cemented in the ground. Don't you think that he deserves a safe and comfortable conveyance when you are hauling him around to lessons and competitions?

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Somewhere in that pile of old mail on your desk is the owner's manual that came with your gooseneck. Find it and open it to the page marked "Maintenance." Read it. Do it.

Before you take your trailer in for service, look closely at the interior.

Have any sharp metal edges suddenly ­appeared? Are any of the partitions bent or out of alignment? Is there anything else in your horse's traveling space that might pose a hazard to him? If so, now is the time to take care of it.

If you have had your trailer for several years and you have been at least normally active, it might be time to replace your tires. If you do not use your trailer on a regular basis, yet have been plagued by
a series of flat tires, you may need to ­replace your tires due to dry rot rather than loss of tread. Each of your trailer tires rotates with the help of mysterious creatures called "bearings." All you need to know about bearings is that they require care on a regular basis from someone who knows far more about machinery than you and I.

What about your brakes? They need regular service, and your maintenance guidelines will tell you what is needed and how to go about it.

While your trailer is in the shop for its annual rehab, make sure that all of its brake lights, backup lights and running lights are operational. You will need this to pass your state inspection, but you want to take care of these details based solely on your desire to have the safest possible environment for your four-legged friend.

If your trailer is of a certain age, lift the floor mats and make sure that the flooring itself is safe. Some older trailers have wood floors, which have a distressing tendency to rot over time, starting at the back end. However, metal floors can also corrode and deteriorate, and they need to be checked.

While your trailer is in for service, make sure that the hitch apparatus is greased, adjusted and maintained. In addition, if you have been towing your trailer with the same ball hitch on your truck for a long time, have your mechanic check that the ball has not shrunk. It's a long shot, but the ball can become so worn that the trailer hitch pops off—and it's preventable.

If you take care of everything we have just talked about, it will cost you a little money. But it is a small investment in your peace of mind about your horse's well-being, and it is a very small down payment on the vet bills you could incur if you don't take care of maintenance.

Posted in English, English Tack, Eventing, Farm & Ranch, Farm Equipment, Riding & Training, Tack & Apparel | | Leave a comment

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