BY LAUREN MAULDIN
Blooming flowers and warmer temperatures mean a lot of things. For equestrians, summer horse shows are on the horizon. Many of us are enjoying a pause after winter circuits before things get ramped up again for travel, training, and fun.
Spring cleaning for horse lovers usually means giving a long-awaited bath on the first warm, sunny day. But you can join the momentum of organizers and clean freaks everywhere by trying out these equestrian-specific spring cleaning projects. Even tackling one or two might make you feel more prepared and ready for a long, happy summer of riding.
Soak Your Saddle Pads White Again
Never underestimate the power of Oxyclean and a bathtub. Even though I was them frequently, I found my fleece fitted show pads and white, square schooling pads looking dingy. Judges love a great first impression, but a tan hunter pad wasn’t going to do that! The solution is easy though. Fill your bathtub with warm water, and a generous amount of powdered Oxyclean. Add your saddle pads to the water. Make sure they’re recently washed, and not absolutely covered in horse hair… because that won’t help the stains come out. Soak the saddle pads in Oxyclean overnight. I’ve done as long as 24 hours, stirring occasionally with a broom handle and flipping the pads over to make sure the entire surface gets saturated. After they’ve soaked, drain the tub and squeeze the excess water out of your pads. You can then move them to your washing machine for a spin cycle, and then hang to dry. You’ll be surprised how new some of these will come out looking!
Give Your Tack Trunk a Scrub
If you’re anything like me, your tack trunk connects to a strange dimensional portal that collects hair from horses you don’t even own, rogue treats, and all sorts of trash. Plus, I swear bottles of grooming products just multiply in there! Before things get too busy with show season, go through your trunk and audit what’s in there. Do you really need three different types of detangler? I like to take everything out, and use a shopvac to clear out the extra dirt, dust and hair from the bottom of my trunk. Before putting everything back in a heap, see how you might be able to organize. I have a bucket for bathing tools and shampoos, a tote for brushes, and a bucket of wrapping materials and wound care in the base of my trunk. For the top tray, I got some small drawer organizers from Target. There is a small tupperware for show items, a tray for tack cleaning spongers and soap, etc. Having a place for everything really helps throughout the year. Don’t forget to get an air-tight container for your horse treats! Not only does this help keep them fresh longer than a rolled up bag, but it will also keep rodents from wanting to turn your tack trunk into a mouse buffet.
Consider Selling Unused Tack & Apparel
The edge of show season is a time where many of us have an itch to shop. There are so many great new items coming out this time of year! A great way to have room (and budget) for new things is to go through what you’re not currently using. For example, I have an army of perfectly good show shirts that somehow got put out of rotation and I haven’t worn in years. If you’re anything like me, it’s a great time to make a keep, sell, and donate pile. Keep what you love or what you use the most. Sell what’s in good shape, and donate what’s still safe and usable but not worth going through the hassle of an online marketplace. You might even have a little extra spending money for that new show coat you’ve been lusting after!
Laundry Strip Your Riding Clothes
Let’s go back to the bathtub for some laundry stripping! Laundry stripping is a process of soaking your clothes that is meant to remove laundry detergent buildup and hard water residue to make your clothes crisp and fresh again. Mixing borax, washing soda, and powdered laundry detergent in your bathtub will “strip” your seemingly clean clothes. While some think laundry stripping is unnecessary, I don’t own a very amazing washing machine (because I spend money on my horse instead of expensive household appliances). I took my clean riding clothes straight from the drawer and soaked them in the laundry stripping solution for about eight hours. The water was black. Gross! After soaking, I drained the tub and did them in a rinse-only cycle in my regular washing machine. They smelled amazing, and I did notice a difference on some of my older sunshirts and schooling breeches.
Clean Our Your Other Horsepower… Your Car
At any given moment, my car is part tack room, dog house, restaurant and storage locker. With long commutes to the barn and horse shows, equestrians spend a lot of time on the road! Taking a little extra time to clean your car will make things more enjoyable for everyone. One of my favorite tools to get the bits of hay and horse hair out of every crevice is cleaning gel putty. You squish these colorful blobs into cup holders, seat cracks, etc and they pull out the random bits without leaving any residue on your car. Even a simple car wash, wipe down, and emptying of Diet Coke bottles (my favorite guilty pleasure) can make your next drive better. Getting into a clean and organized car and flipping on The Plaidcast puts me in a much better mood for long commutes.
Whether you pick one of these projects or something your own, doing a little bit of spring cleaning can really set things off on the right foot!
About the Author: Lauren holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of California Riverside, and is a lifelong rider and writer. Beyond equestrian journalism, she explores body positivity, mental health and addiction through personal narrative. She enjoys showing on the local hunter/jumper circuit in Austin, Texas.
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