Many of the products we use around the barn are so familiar that we don't give them much thought. It can really come as a shock when a small tweak in the design of a basic tool can make a huge difference. Take the example of a hoof pick ? and what can be more basic than that'!
We've all got a hoof pick with a simple metal handle clanking around in the bottom of the grooming bag or hanging from twine on a stall door. But the metal handle doesn't give much purchase when digging out hardened mud or snow.
A plastic handle with finger grooves seems to solve that problem nicely. However, the most common design that combines a metal pick point, grooved hand-hold and stiff brush, has a basic design flaw that works against its intended use.When you hold that pick in the tack shop, it fits nicely into the hand. But, when you're actually under the horse, you turn over the pick so that the point faces away from your arm and body. Therefore, the plastic finger grooves end up on the ?wrong? side, making it harder to hold the pick rather than easier.
While it seems counterintuitive, if you're selecting a pick with some sort of shaped surface for the fingers, you want that surface on the same side as the point.
Many other products we buy seem correct while in the shop but not so much when we get them back to the barn. For example, a thick rubber handle on a dressage whip makes it comfortable to hold in the shop, but it will be too bulky with reins.
A longe line with a rubber donut on the end looks like a good idea to keep it from slipping from the hand, but that heavy donut is a nuisance when you're attached to the horse.
A three-step mounting block can give you the height you want but the top step could be too narrow for stability.
When you shop for gloves, try the gloves while holding a set of reins with the same material as your own reins, such as plain leather, braided leather, or web.
Reverse that idea if you are buying reins ? hold them wearing your usual gloves and not just your bare hand. For example, gloves with PVC dots could have too much grip with rubber reins but will feel just perfect with plain leather.
Think function over form. When purchasing an item in the tack shop, try to mimic its actual use. In addition to all the other things you consider ? like size, cost and materials ? mull over whether the basic design of a product will fit into the way you plan to use it.