What’s in My Ring Bag? McLain Ward’s 8 Ringside Essentials 

What’s in My Ring Bag? McLain Ward’s 8 Ringside Essentials 

McLain Ward needs no introduction. The Olympic and FEI World Equestrian Games gold medalist has a record that speaks for itself. But behind his countless clear rounds and impressive string of horses, there’s a dedicated team of grooms supporting McLain and his horses at the upper echelons of the sport.

Two years ago, Corey Gallais was one of those grooms waiting for the call up. Previously a groom based at Eric Lamaze’s yard alongside Virginie Casterman (HH Azur’s current groom), Corey credits Virginie for helping him become a key member of Team Ward.

“Virginie is very important to me. I’ve learned a lot from her; she’s like my mother,” Corey says of the fellow French native. Thanks in part to her recommendation, Corey now works his dream job alongside McLain’s longtime groom and right-hand man, Lee McKeever. “I feel very lucky to travel with McLain. I get to go to amazing shows and take care of amazing horses. It’s a big opportunity for me.”

Photo by Shannon Brinkman for NoelleFloyd.com.

So what does the ring bag look like for the top U.S. rider and fan favorite? Beware, Corey is the first to admit that his ring bag is heavy!

1. An assortment of hind boots

“Generally we take the back boots he needs for the horse and some extra ones. We always bring some extra Dodas and Veredus, but we normally use EquiFit all of the time,” Corey says. “We always have extras — you never know.”

McLain and Tradition de la Roque. Photo by Sportfot.

2. Superhero-inspired blinkers

If you’re wondering why McLain’s horse, Tradition de la Roque (now ridden by Lauren Fischer), looks like a superhero, it’s because she’s a little sensitive around other horses. Using a trick picked up by Tradition’s former owner, Reed Kessler, Corey puts blinkers on the mare while she in the schooling ring and takes them off before she competes.

“She spooks at other horses. If she’s too close, she will spin or stop. So we put the blinkers on and she’s more focused and on her way — they help. In the beginning she was very stressed in the schooling ring. But she’s been a lot more relaxed recently.”

3. Stay hydrated

When you spend long days at the show, it’s easy to get caught up in the action and forget to take a sip of water, so Corey always keeps a few water bottles on hand in his ring bag. “We stay a long time at the ring. So if me, Lee, or McLain are thirsty, I have a water bottle.”

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An added bonus? “Sometimes we use water on a towel to clean the horse.” A multi-purpose item!

Photo by Shannon Brinkman for NoelleFloyd.com.

4. Disinfectant spray

You never know what’s going to happen in the ring, especially when horses are jumping northwards of 1.50m. Corey gives quick attention to minor blemishes or boot rubs with AluShield Aerosol Bandage — a disinfectant that shields against water, dirt, and bacteria.

5. A Tupperware of studs

“If we show on grass, we have extra studs,” he says. “You never know if you’ll lose a stud or two in the schooling area. So we carry extra studs just in case.”

Photo by Shannon Brinkman for NoelleFloyd.com.

6. Feel secure with sticky spray

It may be surprising to hear, but even McLain is a die-hard believer in the benefits of sticky spray. “The sticky spray is for McLain’s boots. Just to be a little more secure on the horse.”

I mean, have you seen HH Azur jump?

Photo by Shannon Brinkman for NoelleFloyd.com.

7. The treat man

A rewarding pat is nice, but a tasty treat is even better. “After every round, I give Lee a peppermint, and then Lee gives the peppermint to the horse after the boot check.” Good incentive for going clear!

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8. Never forget scissors and tape

Scissors and tape are “always needed for everything,” Corey says of these ring bag staples. “I sometimes use black tape on the spurs if they’re a bit too sharp, or we add some tape to the boots [for added security]. If they lose a shoe, then we can tape them up [to protect the hoof]. The tape and scissors are very useful.”

Photo by Shannon Brinkman for NoelleFloyd.com.

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Feature photo of Lee and Corey with Tradition de la Roque by Shannon Brinkman for NoelleFloyd.com.