Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
Getting ready for a horse show is the ultimate test of organization, early preparation and deep, relaxed breathing-- 3 things equestrians are not always good at, especially if you show green horses! With this easy guide, getting everything ready will seem not as overwhelming.
Before starting, there are several things to figure out in order to start packing.
Is this an overnight show, if so how many days?
How far away is the show grounds from your barn?
Does your horse eat and/ or drink away from home?
Will the grounds provide water?
How much are entry fees?
Is there a trailering fee?
Which classes are you entering?
Is this a rated or schooling show?
Will you or your barn be renting stalls or will you be tied to the trailer?
Knowing this information first will make packing much easier and you and your horse will be prepared. For instance, you will not need extra bedding, pitchforks etc. if your barn will not be renting stalls. Familiarizing yourself with the overview of the show, accommodations, for both horse and rider, and other expectations will determine what (and how much of it) you will pack.
The first things to think about when packing for a show are paperwork and necessary documents that the show delegates will require of you. These might depend on the governing body that is facilitating the show.
A few general documents that should always have a place safely tucked in a closable folder are:
Trailering all the way in and finding out that you don’t have the needed paperwork to even step into the ring can be quite frustrating. Compensate for the time needed to acquire the paperwork too! Don’t wait until the day before the show to ask your vet for a negative Coggins or health certification.
What do I bring for my horse in the horse show?
After you’ve wrangled up your paperwork and answered those first few questions, you should start the official packing.
This is where a few of those questions are necessary to have answered. If your horse is a finicky eater and you know or have doubts that he or she will eat and drink regularly off property, bringing food and water from “home” may help. Even slightly different tasting water can seem like the world is ending to a picky horse.
Not eating will add additional stress to your horse, not allowing them to perform at their best. If your horse has not eaten or consumed water in a long amount of time and they seem lethargic or depressed, scratching from the rest of your classes may be the healthiest choice. Shipping sicknesses can also be a part of this too-- another reason why having an updated health certificate is so important; it isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s to protect the horses!
Bringing food and water from home is a good idea anyway in case there are issues with the provided feed or water. Packing a powdered electrolyte or flavoring mix could be the difference between a healthy or dangerously dehydrated horse. Always offer water multiple times throughout the day even between classes.
Depending on the type of show you’re attending and if you compete in several disciplines, be sure to pack the trailer with your necessary tack. If you are an all-arounder and dabble in several disciplines, but are attending a hunter- jumper show, don’t bring your western saddle, “in case you need it”. It is only more work and clutter in the trailer’s tack room. More is not always more.
If you sometimes need to change bits, bridles, girths or even saddles during your lesson, bring all that you expect to use or might need. If you decide to enter into a fence class and you always school fences in a pelham, then bring a pelham.
Don’t forget about first aid and post-workout items:
When you just HAD TO have that ½ price bit from the tack shop, but haven’t had time to test it out first, leave it at home. With lots of other horses whinnying, getting loose and bolting in the warm-up ring, there is plenty of other stimulation happening rather than concentrating on new equipment. Introducing new tack and equipment should only be done at home in a controlled environment.
What do you need to bring to a horse show?
Packing for yourself can be pretty easy with a couple of reminders. If you are your own groom, as many people are, you’ll need a few extra items.
Of course, you’ll need properly fitted show clothes such as: