As a horse owner, sometimes you have to do your best with what you have. Who among us hasn’t used baling twine to fix broken tack — or pulled a twisted shoe off with vice grips? It’s good to be innovative, but you also want to have the proper tools on hand to address problems safely and effectively. As you build your collection of tack and equipment, add these five common tools to your tack room.
A Leather Punch
A leather punch is a handheld tool used to make round holes in leather. Most look similar to vice grips. They have two handles that you squeeze together, and a rotating head with punches in a variety of sizes.
A leather punch will save you a lot of time and money as a horse owner. Did you buy a new halter that doesn’t tighten quite enough for your dainty Arabian? Punch an extra hole rather than exchanging the halter. Maybe you lost some weight and your favorite show belt is a little loose. That’s another job for a leather punch. They’re also great for adding extra holes to nylon blanket straps, English stirrup leathers, and spur straps.
Leather punches are pretty affordable. It’s worth paying a few dollars more for a good brand since the punches on less-expensive models wear out quickly.
A Cordless Drill
So many problems you might solve with a hammer and nails are better solved with a drill and screws. For instance, a screw will hold your bucket hanger to the wall more securely than a nail. Stall boards will stay in place longer when fastened with screws, too. This makes a cordless drill an important tool to have on hand in the barn.
You do definitely want a cordless model. This way, you can take it out to the pasture to fix a fence board, out on the cross-country course to fix a coup, and so forth.
This is the one more specialized tool on the list, and it’s well worth investing in. Yes, you can pull a shoe off with vice grips. Some have even done it with the back of a hammer. But pulling shoes with these more general tools is a lot of work on your part, and it puts both you and your horse at risk for injuries. The next time your horse comes in from the pasture with a shoe hanging on two nails, you’ll be glad you have proper pull-offs in the tack room. They allow you to grip and pull the shoe perfectly every time.
You don’t need the most expensive pull-offs in the catalog. Save those for farriers who use them multiple times per day. An inexpensive, basic pair will last for years when used to pull the occasional loose shoe. Ask your farrier to show you how to use pull-offs the next time they’re out. Most farriers will be happy to teach you since this will save them an emergency shoe removal call.
You want a good length of smooth rope in a medium thickness. It does not need anything fancy on the ends. Once you have plain rope on hand, you’ll be surprised how much you use it.
You can use it to rope off a corner of the arena where you don’t want your horse to wander while you free lunge. You can use it as temporary fencing while you repair a rail, or pass it under a cast horse to help free them.
Locking pliers are a specific type of pliers that you should always have on hand as a horse owner. Since they lock closed, they give you superior grip and strength to needle-nose pliers and other common types.
You can use locking pliers to pull a sharp nail out of a fence board, remove packed-in grass from a hoof boot, or pull the plastic ring off a stubborn supplement container. They can even help you thread a piece of baling twine through a hole or pull a section of electric fence tape taut. Choose a pair that fits comfortably in your hands. They come in many sizes.
If you have these five tools in your barn, you’ll find yourself having to scramble and innovate less often. When something goes amiss or you need to make a quick repair, you’ll have the tools on-hand to do it. Teaching horses is similar — you want to have the right tools in your toolbox to handle any situation that may arise. Subscribe to Easy Horse Fix, and expand your teaching toolbox.