What’s more fun for equestrians than show season? NOTHING! Summer usually has a packed show schedule for all types of riders with lots of fun locations and stiff competition. This is what you prepare for all year round, so we want to help make sure all of your hard work pays off. Don’t let one little thing get between you and that blue ribbon—run through our horse show prep list to make sure you and your horse are a perfect 10 on show day!
A few weeks before the show
A month or so before the show (maybe even a bit later) you should have received a prize list in the mail listing the classes at the show and their approximate times. There is usually an entry form enclosed as well. This is a great time to choose your classes and mail in the entry so that you have one less thing to worry about on show day. If you don’t have a prize list or aren’t sure you are going, it is still okay to do this on the morning of the show.
This is also the time to make sure you have a truck and trailer available for that day and to be sure your mount has all the necessary vaccinations for the showgrounds. See if there is anyone else going to the show to save on shipping costs and plan what time your horses need to arrive. Planning ahead will make things run more smoothly when the day arrives.
A day before the show
This day may be even busier than show day! It is a good idea to hack around the day before the show, but not overwork your horse so he performs well the next day. If you don’t have time for a ride, a good lunge will do the trick. Keeping him in his stall all day will lead to tight muscles at the show. After you ride, give him a good scrub down and condition his mane and tail (if your braider wants you to, some don’t like it too slick). Be careful to get under his belly, between his back legs and his fetlocks because judges notice everything!
After bath time, if the weather permits, you may want to throw a sheet on your horse in case he decides to roll around in a dirty stall overnight. Cleaning the stall really well can also help your cause. This is also the time to pull his mane if it needs it. Be sure not to pull it too short or braiding will be very difficult.
Once your horse is in tip-top shape, make sure your tack is too. A quick once-over won’t do for horse show day. Make sure to get all the nooks and crannies and to soak your bit if it needs it. While you are cleaning your tack, you should also polish your boots. The spit shine really does work here—don’t knock it until you try it!
Once you leave the barn, make sure all of your show attire is clean and ironed. Double check that you have both socks, both gloves and all the other little pieces. Nothing is worse than getting to the show and only having one glove! Then get some rest!! Show day is almost here.
Hopefully you wake up on time and well rested the morning of the show. Make sure to eat a good, hearty breakfast in case you are too busy to eat at the show. Hang your show clothes neatly in the car so they don’t get dirty while you are packing the trailer. It is also a good idea to bring some extra clothes to the show in case you get spilled on, sweaty or anything else. You will probably want to change out of your show clothes after your classes while you are packing up to go home.
When you get to the barn, first check to make sure your horse is still clean and braided from the night before. If not, it is much easier to clean him up there than at the show. Stuff and hang your hay bag, load up your tack and carefully check to make sure everything is in good working order with the truck and trailer.
Next, you can wrap your horses legs so he stays safe on the road. Some people like to use head bumps and pad halters also to reduce the risk of injury as much as possible. Once he is safely loaded, double check that you have everything you need. This includes water buckets, extra hay, first aid kit, grooming kit, tack, your gear and clothes and your check book! (As much as we’d all like to forget, you do have to pay the show secretary today!).
You are now ready to head to the show. Make sure to relax and enjoy it. Horse shows are a blast even if you don’t win. When you get home, reward yourself by leaving unpacking for the next day—you deserve it! Tomorrow, you can come unpack and take that wonderful horse of yours for a long graze in the field because he works hard on horseshow days, too!
What is your favorite part of horse show prep? What is your least favorite?