by Marilyn Munzert
If the contents of your tack trunk are described as: contains one set of polo wraps, miscellaneous brushes, a pair of breeches that no longer fit, three pairs of random reins, two empty spray bottles, a lot of dust and a dead mouse, find a roomy area in the barn, dump everything out of your tack trunk, and let’s start over.
A well-stocked track trunk is the mark of a good horseman. There’s comfort in knowing that if you break a chin strap, lose a hairnet, or need an extra hoof pick, all you have to do is reach into your tack box to set things right.
When choosing a tack trunk, there are expensive hardwood models and less expensive, durable plastic trunks. A trunk made of UV stabilized polyethylene, can stand up to all the rigors of the barn environment. They’re tough, attractive, and practical. Look for a deep trunk with rustproof hardware and a spring-supported lid.
The traditional hardwood trunk is made for lasting beauty, and if well-crafted, will last for generations. Dovetail joints, solid brass hardware, and durable finishes are all indications of a quality trunk. Some trunks are crafted with a stainless steel trim along the bottom to protect the wood from damp conditions. Expect to pay anywhere between $600 and $1,000 for a finely-crafted wood trunk.
The basic items that should be stored in a tack trunk include a moisture-proof envelope to keep copies of important documents. Copies of the horse’s registration papers, association membership cards, health certificates, insurance cards, and current photos of the horse, in case he is ever lost or stolen, will stay damp free in the moisture-proof envelope. Other documents that might be included in the envelope are driving directions to the show, class premium lists, entry forms, and meal or parking passes. A small pencil box of notepaper, pens, pencils and markers would also be handy to store in the envelope.
If you don’t keep a separate grooming box, you might want to include a brush box and grooming supplies in the tack trunk. Pack a mane and tail detangler, a shine product, tack wipes, extra towels and washcloths, brushes, hoof picks, fly spray and fly wipes. If you put hoof polish and blacking in the trunk, pack it in a large freezer bag to protect your trunk in case it leaks.
Horse supplies include a scrim sheet, extra saddle pads, clippers, braiding kit, and tail and leg wraps. Don’t forget to pack extra parts for your bridle, a lunge line, lead ropes and at least one extra halter. Helmets and gloves should go in with extra breeches, shirts and pins. For good measure, include a flashlight, a knife, baling twine, and rain gear.
A well stocked first aid kit should have a special, easy-to-find, place in the tack trunk. This kit may be used to treat minor injuries or provide emergency care until the veterinarian arrives.
A cabinet made for first aid kits may be bought, but any solid, waterproof container will do. It should be strong enough to withstand bumps and bangs, have a secure latch, and offer dividers for keeping things neat and within easy reach. Documents to keep in a moisture-proof envelope inside the first aid kit include copies of the horse’s Coggins test, veterinary records showing immunizations as well as treatments, important phone numbers, directions on how to get to the nearest surgical clinic, and the address of where your horse is located. Include detailed directions to your barn from the nearest highway. Keep the list of phone numbers on your cell phone and never pack your cell phone in your tack trunk — keep it on your person or in your purse in case you and your horse part company. Keep a cheat sheet on how to measure your horse’s vital signs posted inside your first aid kit. Pack a metal bowl for mixing medications, as well as a mortar and pestle for crushing meds. Syringes are useful for irrigating wounds, delivering meds orally, and flushing intravenous sites. A stethoscope and a digital thermometer, scissors, and a multi-task tool, which has everything from needle-nosed pliers to a can opener, should be in the kit.
Dressing supplies are expensive, but necessary. You should have on hand small, medium and large dressing pads; non-sterile and sterile gauze; half-pound cotton roll; adhesive tape; and padded leg bandages. Self-sticking bandages, like Vetrap, may be purchased in your local pharmacy, as well as in your tack shop, but be sure to buy only those that are two inches wide. Anything less will create a tourniquet effect and is not recommended for horses.
Padded leg bandages should be soft and cushiony enough to disperse pressure. If your horse has an injury that requires the bandage to be on for a long period of time, be sure to use bandages with lots of padding. Leg quilts made for this purpose work quite well. Keep a box of baby diapers and sanitary pads on hand as well, as these come in handy for small areas that do not require sterile bandages.
Topicals to include are: an antiseptic wash, like povidone-iodine; alcohol wipes; hydrogen peroxide eye wash (sterile eye wash only); eye ointment; sting-relief wipes; wound balm; antiseptic spray (buy through your veterinarian); petroleum jelly; and antibiotic ointment.
Never administer prescribed medications without your veterinarian’s approval. Administering medications, like phenylbutazone and Banamine can mask symptoms, making diagnosis almost impossible.
Being prepared is not just for the Boy Scouts. A well-stocked first aid kit and tack trunk offer peace of mind. You’ll be prepared for just about anything your horse can dish out!