I’ve gathered up all my courage (and thrown away my pride) and have chosen a show to make my debut with Hot Rod. We have four weeks to get ready. Eeek! Here’s how I’m going to prepare.
Four weeks before the show:
Order any show clothes, tack, or other items you might need. This is actually cutting it kind of close, but I had researched all the things I needed and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be returning anything. In my case, I ordered a nice, white show shirt, a new show saddle pad, and some reins. All the other clothes I will be wearing are used and borrowed. Once I get my feet wet I will purchase some of my own.
Three weeks before the show:
Start to break down tack and thoroughly clean it. If you have anything with silver on it, polish the silver. Again, the timing depends on your circumstances, but I need lots of time to prepare. Hopefully if it’s done this early it will only need a quick once-over before the show.
Two weeks before the show:
Make sure your show halter is well-fitted and use it to practice a few times. Hopefully any items you had to purchase have arrived, and it’s time to try them out. For me, this means putting together my whole “look” and riding in it to work out any kinks. Riding in front of judges is nerve-wracking enough, you don’t need any wardrobe malfunctions to add to your stress. This is also a good time to have your farrier out. It’s not too close to the show, but not too far behind in case your horse is sore or you lose a shoe.
One week before the show:
Make a list of every single thing you’ll need to take with you. This might include feed, hay, hay bags, show clothes, hat, boots, make-up, extra deodorant:), buckets, bucket hooks, shavings, manure rake, saddle, headstall, halter, etc. The list could go on for days. Don’t forget your registration papers and your Coggins papers.
One to two days before the show:
Depending on whether your show is a multiple day event or just a one day show, you might bathe your horse at home or at the show. Bathe him with a mile soap and make sure to rinse thoroughly. Wash the mane and tail and then use a conditioner. Again, washing thoroughly is key. Your bath will be pointless if you don’t rinse well. Clip your horse’s muzzle, ears, and legs. Clipping at this point should be finishing touches only with all major jobs done two-three weeks before the show. Now would also be a good time to band your horse’s mane, while you have time to go slowly and focus. After banding the mane, cover it up if possible with a mane tamer.
Night before the show:
Load all your things in your trailer and use your check-list. Also, pack food and drinks for the day to avoid concession stand food. A good tip I’ve been told from other horse-showers is to organize your outfits in different garment bags and label each one so they’ll be easy to find between classes. Don’t forget to pack a first aid kit and bring chairs as well.
Day of the show:
Try to get there early so your horse can get acclimated to his new surroundings. A great tip I’ve heard for the warm-up pen is to ride closer to the center of the ring and do your normal routine to calm your horse. Then, slowly move to the rail as it can be a scarier place for your horse. Take deep breaths and try to have fun. Or so I’m telling myself.
Obviously each show is different and so are your show needs, but this is the basic outline I will be using to prepare myself for my little show. I found this list on Pinterest and I thought it was really helpful. Here’s a link to a larger picture of it: http://shdressage.co.uk/fun/stressed-before-show-day-the-horse-show-checklist-will-help