Written by Contributing Writer, Karen McPeak and Illustrated by WARHorse “Cover Girl”, Kathy Duke.

I’m getting ready to move to a new barn. In preparation, I’m sorting and inventorying the accumulated paraphernalia that comes with being a horse owner. I’m going from a spacious tack closet back to my rolling trunk so I need to figure out how to organize it all so the lid will close. Solution? Buy a second, smaller unit–a three-in-one vertical tool box on wheels. Brilliant, I think to myself. I’ll keep the things I use most in the smaller box where they’re easy to get to and save the bigger trunk for the rest. Anything I rarely use can go in one of the other two tack boxes in the garage. So, that’s four trunks not counting the big clear storage box, claimed from my stash of many such organization solutions I purchased to hold holiday decorations, spare linens, etc., that will be perfect for storing out of season horse blankets. That also doesn’t include the two bridle hooks on the garage wall, or the four-hook unit in the laundry room.

I make a plan and bring home some of the least used items from the barn. I stack the saddle pads and count. One, two, three…five? I remember two are still at the barn. Seven. Wait. Eight. I forgot the one in the laundry room. Nine if I count the half-pad. Oh, and I’ll get the Thinline Ultra half pad as soon as my saddle is readjusted. Ten. I immediately decide I’ll pick up a rack to hang the spare pads in the garage.


I continue sorting. Hoof treatments over there, mentally noting the Venice turpentine was used once and therefore can stay in one of the boxes at home. Grooming aids over here, (remembering most of them are still at the barn) and I wonder if the can of olive oil hair sheen purchased five months ago but not used because I haven’t run out of Show Sheen yet, can be laid on its side or should be stored upright. Two containers of braiding bands, brown and chestnut, one purchased when I couldn’t find the first. One can stay home with the black bands from the previous horses (the last of which sold in the late 1990s.) I don’t braid anything anyway except for the little two-inch flip of mane that goes forward instead of to the right. Five rolls of vet wrap. No, seven. Two are still at the barn with the bucket of poultice and the four ready-made poultice pads and the unworn Easy Boot. Four leads plus three still at the barn. Two lunge lines, two dressage whips, one lunge whip, one jumping bat; briefly wonder why I kept that since I don’t jump. A spare set of irons and stiff, dry leathers circa 1983. Need to condition those.

I survey the collection, mentally taking stock of what remains at the barn besides my tack. Pleased with my organizational skills, I lay out the turnout blanket (one) and sheets (two), folding them neatly so they’ll fit in the plastic storage box–which they do, perfectly. They probably should be cleaned and I wonder how long plastic holds odor. The two coolers fit as well. There’s even room for the fly sheet that is still at the barn. It’s a little small so I probably should pick up a new one. Spare snaffle over there. The thirty year old dressage girth, made before extended billets were routine, can be set aside. Then leg cottons and one lone polo wrap, all circa 1987. They might come in handy so they’re relegated to the infrequent pile. Back to the saddle pads. I’m getting tired so I put them in the rolling trunk to be dealt with later, and return to ruminating about what will go where. There are four halters. If one breaks I’ll need a spare and I like to use the newer of the two leather ones in photos. I might need a new web halter that I don’t mind getting wet, since two have fleece crowns and nosebands that take forever to dry.

At the barn, three plastic shoeboxes plus a repurposed plastic magazine box that is perfect for rolls of vet wrap, hold an assortment of first aid supplies for people and horses. Grooming tote, three small buckets, sponges, shampoos, three kinds of fungicide for the nasty rain rot last winter, towels, rags, three varieties of horse treats, regular scissors, bandage scissors, pilfered baling twine (just in case) and a few double ended snaps. And hock boots for the hock sores that plague my mare, three mismatched bell boots, splint boots, sport boots, and eight white polo wraps. Four standing bandages, two sets of leg quilts (that one set is so stiff; I wonder if I can use them for something else?) Electrolytes. Spare fly spray concentrate, one regular hay net and two square hay nets (love the square ones. I should get another.) My mind drifts to how to store the spare saddle, bitless bridle, and chambon I want to buy eventually.


All that stuff and one horse purchased less than 18 months ago. I shrug off any subliminal warnings, justifying that I work part time at a tack shop where the discount is so crazy that new purchases make perfect sense because they’re such a good deal. Then I realize I’ve only worked at the shop a few months and I accumulated most of the stuff before the job. I refuse to tally the expense. I mean, what’s the point?

I unloaded a lot of equipment before we moved out of state six years ago. I’d hung on to it for 15 years. Most of what was left fit in the box my late father made for me in 1972, and I certainly wasn’t going to get rid of that. I still rue losing a little leather halter my first pony wore in 1961 when he arrived for Christmas. I had it for 30 years or so before it disappeared, although I still have a brush that probably has a few wisps of chestnut pony hair deep in the bristles. But now there’s another horse and we lack nothing. Except an extra set of reins, a couple of new natural bristle bushes, and something to hold ten saddle pads.