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April 28, 2021 2 min read

As the season ends, it's worth a bit of extra time to sort out the gear and check over the ponies, to make sure everything is set for next year. 

To do - for end of season:

1. Do a tack audit - it's a good time to get everything clean, and identify what you need to replace for the next season. Start of season is too busy to worry about sourcing tack. 

  • Check all leather tack, for any signs of wear or cracking. Stirrup leathers, reins and draw reins especially must be completely free from damage, because they can give way at a moment's notice. 
  • Clean tack with saddle soap on a very slightly damp sponge, and rub until all the foam has disappeared. Then condition to soften the leather - classic neatsfoot oil has been used for centuries to prevent cracking and keep leather supple. Be warned though, if you condition leather it's best to keep it inside over winter, because high oil content in the leather can make it prone to mildew. If you can't keep your saddles inside, just clean them with saddle soap and condition in the springtime.
  • Carefully check all girths - sharing girths, as polo ponies often do, can mean sharing bugs that create saddle sores or girth itch. Make sure girths have no cracks or wear, and that the buckles are all in top condition.
  • Wash all bits with dish liquid and then rinse thoroughly. Make sure bits are in top condition, with no sharp or broken bits.
  • Clean and store all bridles, reins, running reins, saddles, breastplates, martingales, wash and roll polo wraps and polocrosse bandages. Get everything in order ready to go next season. 

2. Turn out the ponies:

  • rugs go on, shoes come off. 
  • Worm all the horses so they can all put on weight while turned out
  • check all legs and feet for any lumps bumps or lameness
  • treat your string to equine massage or therapy like equine acupuncture

3. Bring in the off-season string!

  • off-season is a good time to work young horses - riding around the farm, getting them used to sights and smells, teaching them to move off the leg, use their hind end and give to the bit, in a relaxed and natural environment off the field. Light work with plenty of mental stimulation sets them up for a solid start for the next season. 
  • bring out the hunters or do some campdraft - a bit cross-training for polo ponies and polocrosse horses goes a long way - Melbourne Cup winnter Viewed was inspired to win after doing some jumping practice, and many horses benefit from mixing it up, trying something different. Fox hunting out with a pack of horses and hounds is a great way to mix it up. 

4. Get the truck serviced, check the oil

5. Take some time for yourself

  • get a massage, pour a whiskey, have a bubble bath - all of the above! It's good to take some time to relax, now that the hard work is done.  

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