I wouldn’t be without our hot shower for horses. It’s an ordinary household shower rigged up in a wash box — a stable with rubber matting — and it means we can rinse horses off and still keep them comfortable whenever they get muddy or sweaty.
Our hydraulic hay soaker also saves a lot of effort. It’s a big tub on a metal frame with a pole and arm combined with a car jack. Haynets soak in the tub, then are hooked on to the arm and swung round into a wheelbarrow.
We have an industrial washing machine and all boots and numnahs are washed every time they’re used. Our rug drying room, with racks and heaters, means we can dry rugs and other equipment overnight.
All our horses have buckets and corner mangers in matching colours. This means I can leave everything ready and whoever feeds them knows that the feed in, say, the blue bucket goes in the blue manger, so there’s no risk of horses getting the wrong feeds.
I’m paranoid about saddles fitting horses, but they have to fit riders, too. I’m a bit short in the leg and like to have my leg straight and my knee back. I find that Passier and Devoucoux saddles suit me: the Passier puts me in just the right position.
I don’t like girths with elastic inserts and I don’t like girths done up too tight. When they don’t have elastic it’s easier to judge how tight girths are — and if you adjust them too tightly, it affects the horse in carrying out movements such as flying changes.
Most of my girths are Albion leather ones and, like my saddles, they’re about 10 years old. The girths are shaped well and have nice, soft, rounded edges.
I prefer plain cotton numnahs because I like to get as close to the horse as I can. Numnahs with towelling backs are useful because they absorb sweat.
Elevator bridles, which are designed to relieve pressure at the poll, have worked for some clients’ horses. They seem to be good for horses who bear down a bit and try to go too deep.
With double bridles, I’ve found a lot of horses go well in Mors L’Hotte Weymouths. These don’t have a port, but have an arched mouthpiece to give room for the tongue. I’ll often use a Dewsbury link bradoon in Kangaroo metal, which has a copper content, as a bradoon.
I like Woof Club boots for everyday and posh white ones for competition warm-ups and demonstrations. They’re quick and easy to fit and I have a special brush for keeping the Velcro clean.