How can I secure my tack at home, and at shows?
As a Groom or horse owner, we spend most of our time around horses and tack. While we are responsible for applying tack, cleaning tack, and tucking tack in for the night, we rarely think of theft as a possibility. Until that fateful day when you go to the ring to watch your horse go and you come back to...an empty tack room. Chances are, this is not going to happen in the light of day at a high tech and fully fenced and gated farm. However, many of us work at shows for weeks on end, and that atmosphere is full of people you are likely to never see again, even if they are working one barn aisle over. I’m amazed at how easy it is to just amble down a barn aisle at a show and all of the goodies that are available for picking off. Even “not dressing the part” is overlooked, as there are spectators and owners alike that visit the barns in flip flops, heels, and “street clothes”.
What are some things we can do to protect our belongings at the barn? As a boarder, I share a common tack room with some other boarders. We are blessed that the farm is gated, and you need a code to get in. Our common tack room is locked with both a deadbolt and a lock in the handle. We all have keys, and the trainers lock up at the end of the day. Luckily, it’s such a small place that we all know each other and respect each other’s stuff. I do label my things, so that laundry is easy to sort, and brushes get back to me if they fall out of the bin or when they are washed. I have also “registered” my items with photos and serial numbers for my homeowner’s insurance policy. Check with your insurance agency to see if you are covered.
You may want to lock your tack trunk. Key and combo locks work.
I have heard nightmare stories at bigger facilities where there are shared tack rooms, and the “sharing” of stuff happens willy-nilly, and the rooms are rarely locked overnight. There are also larger barns with individual tack rooms, and to be truly effective you must lock your area even when your are at the barn. I was at a large barn the other day to meet a friend and I walked around the place for 10 minutes and could easily have stolen a saddle or even a horse. No one even questioned my being there, even though I was a total stranger!
These bike locks are great for shows, when you may have to secure a tack stall door to something else...
So now you are at the place where you need to pick a lock (get it?? Ha ha!) In choosing a lock for your individual tack shed or trunk, there are a few things to consider:
- Can you remember a combo? I can, I remember my locker combo from three decades ago. I also know people that don’t know their own address or phone number that they have now!
- Do you like to lose things? Like keys? Or your mind when you are trying to remember where you put those darn keys?
- Look for strength in a lock. Most inexpensive locks are easy to snap with bolt cutters. A solid lock will have hardened steel, which greatly resists bolt cutters.
- Some new fangled locks use letters, which may be easier to remember than numbers.
- A suitcase lock isn’t going to stand up to much. Go bigger.
Whatever you choose to secure your tack at the barn, make sure your trainer has access when you are away and your horse is being cared for by others.
Now, when you are at the shows, you need to kick security into high gear. Most of us at shows either use our trailer tack room or a show stall that’s been converted. The trailer tack rooms lock the door with at least two locks usually, my trailer needs three different keys to get into it.
A lead shank and lock make a make-shift closure for a tack room or feed room at a show.
Please lock your tack at the shows even if you are going one aisle over. Please lock your grain up when you are not feeding. This protects it from rodents and moisture, and can deter someone who wants to drug your horse. (I can’t believe I typed that, so sad - but it has happened.)
You have lots of choices at the shows regarding what type of lock to use, and most of the time it depends on the type of storage you are using. For example, some stalls at shows have latches on swing doors that can accommodate a padlock, other stalls have sliding doors with vertical bars and you need a chain or cable to string through and then you can use a lock. A bicycle lock works well, here, too.
Many shows offer a “night watch” service for horses, which is designed to look after your horse. However, if you have this service patrolling your stalls, this will may deter anyone with sticky fingers.
How do you lock up your goodies at home and at shows?