As anyone who has spent any time around me knows, I am a compulsive list-maker. Especially for things like rides, runs, or anything that involves me remembering stuff that is out of the ordinary. I have checklists, broken down into applicable categories (“tack”, camping gear”, “rider clothes”, etc), that I print out before every ride. I live with post-it notes stuck everywhere: reminders of what to buy, when to expect packages to arrive, how to organize items.
(Currently, I am staring at a list for an upcoming trail race that will involve putting together 4 different drop bags for a point-to-point course.)
I wasn’t always this way.
I had to learn the hard way about the value of having a hard copy list, not just skimming through the mental checklist.
My most epic fail moment (to date) of forgetfulness was back in my show days. I had traveled out to California with my trainer for a weekend-long show…and when I went to tack up for the western classes, discovered that I had my felt liner pad, but not the decorative wool blanket for on top.
Not quite the end of the world…but in a fairly competitive environment, where details matter — this mattered.
While I was busy having a meltdown, my parents (who had traveled out to the show to surprise me), did some fast networking and procured a spare pad (color-neutral enough to work with my turquoise outfit) from another rider’s parents.
Turns out that rider was Kaity Elliott. At that point, we knew each other in that vague “I know that girl and her very spotty (Kaity)/very white (me) pony” way. But the “saddle pad incident” made us more than just vague acquaintances and competitors. We started talking to each other. And hanging out together at shows. And the rest, if you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, is history, of our shared adventures in distance riding, horse borrowing, crewing, and other shenanigans. A lifelong friendship, all formed over a forgotten saddle pad.
The only other (I’m jinxing myself here…) thing I can remember for an event was the Sage Hill NATRC ride in 2002, in which I discovered halfway through the drive out that I forgot my half chaps and water reservoir for my hydration pack. Neither were deal-breakers, although I was convinced that since I was riding English, the stirrup leathers were going to pinch and rub my legs raw (they didn’t), and that if I didn’t have water on my person, I was going to die of dehydration (and since I’m sitting here writing this today, I obviously didn’t). It was a 20-mile ride in the Santa Ynez mountains in November…I’m pretty sure I still even had water in my water bottles on the saddle by the end of the ride.
Of course, just last month I went down to the barn with the intention of riding…only to discover I had left my girth at home. Not the first time that’s happened, which is one of the hazards of using your garage as your tack room and driving everything between your house and your horse. Sometimes it results in an impromptu bareback ride, sometimes in a pony lunging session, and sometimes in a “screw it, have a cookie and go back out to the pasture” approach.
The main thing that has contributed to me forgetting stuff? Doing something out of the ordinary and not putting it back in place. In the case of the water bladder, I had pulled it out to clean it and left it out to dry. I remembered my hydration pack…just forgot to retrieve the bladder. Same deal, same time with the half chaps: had washed them, hung them to dry, and assumed they made it back into the bag with all of my rider gear (helmet, half chaps, GPS, etc).
These days, I’ve gotten pretty good about keeping things organized and “in their place” and have a routine of where to grab what…but ultimately, it’s my checklists that keep me in line and organized. And I make sure that before I have something checked off the list, I have physically put my hands on it, can account for it, and know that it is packed where it needs to be.
(Working on putting my checklists into a printable .pdf file if anyone is interested…I may start compiling informational things such as my packing lists into a separate information page on here if there is enough interest.)