When horse driven vehicles were a part of everyday life, the saying was a whip [driver] should always carry “a knife, a shilling and a piece of string”.
Every horse-drawn vehicle should carry a spares kit. Similar to a tool kit or roadside emergency kit commonly carried in motorised vehicles, a spares kit contains important tools and safety items that may be required in an emergency situation. The kit should be carried on your carriage at all times.
Equipment failure and accidents while driving a horse-drawn vehicle are always a very real risk. There is no alternative to regularly checking harness and carriages for problems. However broken traces, reins or other harness parts can occur any time. Without the proper tools and supplies handy to make a speedy repair, you just might have a long walk home…or worse.
The RDA gives this list as the essential minimum to carry on every drive:
- Spare rein
- Hoof pick
- Spare Trace of correct length / width
- Sharp knife
- Lead rope
- Complete First Aid kit (human)
Your spares kit should also be customised to your individual needs based on your horse(s), equipment and the type of driving you enjoy, from pleasure drives, shows, cones or a marathon with obstacles. There are many handy items that can be added:
- Electrical tape / Duct tape
- Cable ties
- Fly spray / Sun tan lotion
- Wrench / Allen Key
- Horse first aid
- Pen & paper
- Spare Gloves
- Sweets / Biscuits / Tissues
- Bottled Water
A few years ago, Hugh Scott-Barrett did a talk for SDHC, when he is backstepping for Boyd Excell the spares kit contains:
- Two adjustable spanners
- White cloth to remove sweat
- Hole puncher
- Coloured cloth to wipe down carriage after water obstacle
- Pair of scissors
- Coke and Snickers (for driver)
- Sharp knife
- Water (for groom)
- Four or five leather straps
- Spare gas cylinders for air jackets
- One or two lead ropes
- Fly spray (in summer)
- Miscellaneous clips and bolts (respectively for harness adjustments/carriage repairs)
Spares kits can be purchased as completely stocked cases or you can buy an empty case to fill yourself. Specially made spares cases are available that have space to secure all of your supplies. Or you can get creative in finding your own case and stocking it with items you have around the stables and garage.
Either way, it’s all about being safe and now is a good time to re-evaluate yours to make sure it’s robust and fully stocked.