Truck owners lament that they get a lot of people asking for their help when moving. As a trainer and instructor, I get people asking to use my tack.
I'm an equine germaphobe. On my horse's behalf, I do not share saddle pads, girths, bridles, bits, buckets, brushes, or any other items of that nature with any other person in the barn. To me, these items are as personal as my underwear. Too often, these items are carelessly passed through the barn, causing transmission of disease and bacterial/fungal infections.
Sure, I've cleaned my fair share of stalls and enjoyed a delicious cookie without washing my hands, but I will never share something as intimate as my horse's girth with another rider. I often shrug and accept my dusty, dirty hands and face, but I use baby wipes to clean my horse's brown spots in between baths. I often disinfect Shorty's feeder, waterer, brushes, buckets, and bits with diluted Listerine.
That doesn't mean that I don't get throngs of people asking to use my stuff. The purpose of this blog entry is not to engage in a penile listing of all of my stuff, but to illustrate. For example, my Matha Josey barrel racing saddle is one of the best saddles for the sport, and I have a rare collector's edition model. Do people want to use it all the time? Yes. I have an Albion dressage saddle with leather so soft and cushiony I feel like I'm riding on a pillow. Do people want to sit in my delicious dressage saddle? Absolutely. Do they want to borrow my Supra Cor pad or try out my Tom Thumb bit? Do they marvel at Shorty's awesome new splint boots or ask to borrow my Back on Track wraps in lieu of using poultice? All the time!
Do I let them? I let a student of mine borrow my western saddle on the condition that she acquire (borrow) a different girth and pad. I'll never let someone use my dressage saddle on another horse because it is flocked specifically for Shorty and the seat is padded specifically for me and my balance issues (the right side has a tad more padding due to an irreversable issue in my hip that causes it to sink unless propped up). I don't, as a rule, share brushes, buckets, scrubbies, sponges, girths, saddle pads or similar items. I will allow someone lacking in first aid supplies (I have two huge trunks of first aid stuff for one horse!) to use a dab of novalssan or some guaze, particularly in emergency situations. One of my students used my bute, 2 grams a day, for ten days. The horse needed the bute, and she didn't have the money to purchase her own (which baffles me- 100 grams is $40!), and I ended up giving her the drugs.
A purchased a pony pad by mistake. Yes, A is the another RIDING INSTRUCTOR at the farm and should be able to pick up a pad and say, "This looks like a pony pad; I should get a bigger one." Nope. The pad didn't even completely fit under her saddle, so she asked me if I would lend her one of my "many saddle pads." Yes, I do have four English pads and two western ones. That way, if one gets sweaty or hairy (usually both), I can fold it up, stick it in my laundry basket, and take the basket home when the thing is full. I usually get one, maybe two, rides from a saddle pad before I decide it needs to be washed. Shorty's back is so sensitive that a dirty, hairy, itchy pad will do us no favors, so I'm somewhat anal in that regard. I routinely switch out polo wraps and splint boots for the same reason, as well as the fuzzy thingies on Shorty's cribbing collar.
I felt greedy for sticking to my usual germaphobia when A asked for a pad, but I did decline to lend her one. Her horse has rain rot because she doesn't brush the mud off of it routinely, and I don't care to expose my horse to it. I straight out told her, in no uncertain terms, was she allowed to use any of my horse's equipment for herself or her horse. I felt bad for turning her down, but there are plenty of extra pads in the school horse tack room that she could use, or she could simply go out and buy a larger pad. Even a cheap baby pad would work.
Yes, I am a germaphobe when it comes to Shorty's tack. I feel like an asshole for it, but I also feel I have to protect my horse's health in every way that I can. I want to help others, but I won't sacrifice the frgaile well being of my special guy. Am I a bad person? Probably. Were we taught in grade school to always share? Yes. I'd straight out open my wallet and fork over all of my cash to a needy person (and usually end up doing so when I see a collection can for Last Chance Corral), but I still can't bring myself to share my tack.
Is anyone else in my wonderful readership also an equine germaphobe? Speak up! I'd love to hear about your ideosyncracies and minor lunacies when it comes to your horse's health.