Thank you to everyone who posted a comment in response to my last blog about Molly’s retirement.

It was so lovely to hear about all the other veteran horses still enjoying life. It just goes to show what a bunch of softies we all are.

To shake off the doom and gloom I thought I would turn my attention to something more frivolous this week. We went to the Three Counties show a few days ago and in a moment of inattention at the ringside I found myself studying all the different breeds of ringside basket (used by those showing horses for finishing touches).

Traditional wicker baskets are still very much in contention, and they are part and parcel of the showground landscape, but lots of us now favour a more modern holdall with lots of pockets for bits and pieces. I saw some lovely decorative examples – gingham checks, Cath Kidstone florals – which nestled nicely into the grass, but lots of practical no-nonsense ones too.

basket 2

My own is a bit like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, containing a lot more than you would think it could possibly hold, ‘just in case’. The downside of planning for every eventuality like this is that I can never find the thing I want without taking everything else out first. So with a view to fine tuning the contents of my own, I asked a few people “What’s in your basket?”

And here’s the list, in order of popularity:

Polos – so glad these were top of everyone’s list, it shows we have our priorities right.

Baby wipes – I had thought these were entirely universal, but just the other week when I brandished one to clean the mud off a jodhpur boot I heard somebody murmur “Ooh, baby wipes, that’s a good idea”, so perhaps not. Whenever I am in the supermarket and see anyone beyond their child rearing years with a trolley full of wipes on a BOGOF offer, I think to myself that they probably go showing.

Hoof oil – obviously.

Brush – obviously.

Supreme Sparkle – other brands are available.

For lots of people that’s about it, and while I admire the pros for whom ‘less is more’ this level of constraint would leave me panic stricken.

basket 4

As those who read an earlier blog would know, I am allergic to the last minute sprint back to the lorry park, so I have to carry the works – spare studs, spanner and baby oil, plaiting kit (to be fair this is based on my own appalling plaiting skills – it’s always touch and go if they will make it into the ring intact), saddle soap and cloth, boot buffer, spare rubber bands for safety stirrups, chalk… the list goes on. But I am not alone, and several people in my makeshift survey had some interesting additions, including:

Hole punch (in case the ride judge has unusually short legs). This led to an interesting exchange about the best time to punch the extra holes, so as not to offend said judge.

Bright cloth to shake surreptitiously at trot-up time.

Portable dog bowl (only if you have a dog).

Bag of Minstrels; the perfect no-melt sunny day chocolate.

Cash for post-class ice cream fix, hopefully to celebrate or more often to commiserate.

basket 3

And, from several respondents, wine (and glasses), or even tins of gin and tonic. I am always a bit suspicious of plastic bottles apparently containing water as I have often thought a sly mouthful of gin would have made the outcome of some of the classes more bearable, but it seems some people don’t even bother to disguise it!

Am now considering buying an even bigger bag.

Thanks to ‘Mandy Basket’ (she of the gingham lining) and everyone else who let me take a random photo.

JG