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My Destroyed Equestrian Half Chaps

As an active competitor at my local equestrian club, I am used to the pre night checks essential before a competition. But what happens when you have completed these checks, only to wake the following morning to find out that an essential piece of kit has been compromised?

Half chaps. For those of us who don’t wish to ride in long boots, but like to prevent wear or stains on our breeches, they are an essential piece of kit. Not only in order to look the part, but to feel comfortable whilst riding too. I am a firm believer that you get more ‘feel’ for the horse when you wear jodhpur boots and half chaps, as opposed to long boots. As well as offering this enhanced feel, half chaps also prevent that unpleasant pinching from your stirrup leathers!

It is therefore essential when I compete, that my trusty pair of ‘lucky’ half chaps are clean and tidy for me to wear.

The night before: competition pre checks

Being a part of the riding club which holds events on a regular basis, I thought I had my pre-competition routine perfected. I had made sure my show shirt, stock and breeches were clean and ironed. My boots were shined, jacket hung up and my equestrian half chaps were clean and lying next to my boots on the floor. I had memorised my test and was mentally prepared for the show jumping course the next day. Safe to say, I was feeling very confident. Sleeping soundly that night, there was one thing which I didn’t take into account, I had forgotten to put our dwarf house rabbit back in her cage for the night. Normally, this would not be an issue. However, being a rabbit she saw an opportunity to chew and she took it.

The morning chaos

The alarm went off at half past five. Groggily, I walked to the kitchen and poured myself a coffee and got some cereal. As I started to wake up and get ready I was blissfully unaware that something was amiss. It wasn’t until I had my boot bag out and was packing up my kit that I realised I was missing one of my half chaps. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem. I would have gone into my room and pulled out a pair of long boots or a different set of chaps. But I wasn’t at home. I was in my student accommodation with my minimal amount of show gear. I had limited myself to the pair of boots I had just packed and now one long suede half chap.

Initially I started to panic. I was convinced that this was the day everything would go wrong and I would end up airlifted from the arena, with terrible scores and a bruised ego. Then, as I was imagining every possible scenario, I saw a grey flicker in the corner of my eye. As I looked to the middle of the room, there was my rabbit, proudly dragging my missing chap across the carpet.

Immediately I started to laugh as surely there was no damage. She was helping her forgetful ‘mum’ get her stuff together. As I approached, though, the smile was wiped from my face. She lay down, releasing the chap to the floor and then I noticed what she had done. My rabbit had chewed a sizeable hole on the inside of my chap. At first this sent me into a deeper panic. I would have to either compete without half chaps, something that I would rather not do at risk of damaging my expensive breeches, or I could try and hide the damage.

The ‘creative solution’ to half chap repair

By this time, I had 15 minutes until I was due to be picked up. I quickly rummaged through cupboards to try to find something which may disguise the hole. As my boots and chaps are brown, most items I found in my cupboards were useless. Just as I was about to give up and admit defeat, I spotted the solution to my problems. It had been there all along, the blanket on my bed! The colour matched my chaps perfectly, a deep chocolate brown. I quickly packed my blanket and a pair of scissors and ran to the car.

My friends could not stop laughing. They couldn’t believe that something so small could cause so much damage. I smiled and jested whilst I worked. Cutting a strip off my blanket and using safety pins to attach it to my Half- chap. I took a sigh of relief once it was done. It was noticeable. But not so much when you are on a horse. Thankfully the rabbit had only chewed up the inside material. I was happy that the repair would get me through the day so I put my handiwork back in my bag ready for my arrival at the yard.

The result: a surprising one at that!

Once many of the riding club members had been made aware of my morning antics and had sufficiently mocked me for my efforts, we started to get our show kit on. As I reached my half chaps, I hesitated- what if my job hadn’t been as good as I thought it was in the car? I slid them on and zipped them up and looked in the mirror. The repair was almost invisible! Tack and kit check were over, a warm up completed and so it was time to compete.

We did really well that day. I had my highest scores of the season. Thanks to my trusty patched up half chaps, my crystal white breeches didn’t have a mark on them. I’ve learnt my lesson though, do not leave any kit in the same room as a rabbit. It never ends well.


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