Photo: Stephen Mowbray
1. My Team: The very first thing I need at a competition to help me perform at my best is a good support crew. Although sometimes it’s not possible at smaller events, it is of the highest importance, at big events for me to try and have a great, knowledgeable, hardworking team with me that knows how I work and prepare myself at a competition. My two head members of this team are my husband David McKinnon and my mum, Ali Soster. We also have some wonderful grooms and I must also mention my Sponsor Elka Fischer of Equine Performance and Wellbeing. Our horses always have a treatment before they go to events from Elka. She is a little bit of a secret weapon for us, and when she can, she attends the big events as well.
2. My Erreplus saddle: My horses are always fitted with the best saddles for their shape and movement and I trust Paula Jefferies of Performance Saddle Fits to do this before I go to an event. Both Razzamatazz and Danora have the Erreplus saddles and I have to have these saddles at an event to make my horses perform to their best. I don’t like to change my gear at events.
3. Prydes Easifeed and hay nets: Our team is fed Prydes Easifeed. Every horse has a diet specially tailored for its work level, health and conditioning requirements. Prydes have a variety of very yummy feeds that our horses love. At each event, our horses have the same feed provided. We also give our horses meadow hay at events. They are fed out of slow feed hay nets, which means they graze on the hay for the duration of the competition.
4. Plaiting apron: I have a bright red plaiting apron that holds all the vitals. From all my plaiting and sewing gear to safety pins and quartermark combs for a little extra presentation effort. I like to turn out my horses as best I can, even in the dressage arena. I have had a show background prior to my dressage career, so it is always important to me to look well presented. My plaiting apron is the first thing I check for in my grooming kit.
5. Premiere Rose-oil Spray: We always have it in our grooming kit - a spray bottle made up of combined water and rose oil. This is a great product for horses with dry skin and we try and use it on a regular basis. It is also great to add a little extra shine at events when you brush them before you compete.
6. iPhone: One of those items I don’t think anyone can live without! For many reasons, I have to have it. Obviously so that I can contact people but also so that I can video my dressage tests or use the Sat Nav. If I need it. I always read over my tests at the last minute on my iPhone, just in case.
7. Cavallo Top Boots: My poor top boots get a serious work out almost every weekend throughout the year. I live in them. I love my Cavallo Top boots and considering how often I use them they are very comfortable and hardwearing. They always look beautiful and are fitted to perfection. Definitely something I can’t live without!
8. Vet Kit: We always travel with a vet kit. We have vet wrap, cotton wool and gauze, poultices, various medications and topical treatments (although you do have to be very careful what you use as a lot of medications are swabable) and also a thermometer. When on long trips our horses get their temperatures taken before they leave, at any stops along the way, and at the venue. We know what every horse’s normal temperature is, as each day at home our horses have their temps taken, and recorded before they are ridden. Usually the first sign of sickness is a spike in a temperature, so we keep a very close eye on this so as we can catch any problems early. Our vet kit has really helped in some urgent scenarios. You never know what can happen at an event.
9. My Freestyle music: At the big events we have our freestyle dressage tests. It’s probably my favourite part of competing at a bigger event. I have a very long time sponsor in Fortissimo Freestyles. I have worked with Mel since I was about 15 and she is quite the master. My freestyle music is somewhat important to compete with and I have forgotten it before! It causes great stress when you don’t have it. It’s a definite must have at events.
10. Comfy clothes: I think this last one is right up there with my 1st point of my team needed. It’s a must have for sure. I have to have something comfortable to wear at the end of a long day. That down time after a warm shower and into my trackies is what helps me get through some of those huge events, especially Nationals and some of our CDI events where Dave and I have up to 8 horses. Everyone needs a good, daggy pair of trackies and a hoodie.
Story from Horse Deals Magazine May 2017