All Tied Up—Tips for Showing Out of Your Trailer and Skipping the Stalls
By Terisé Cole
Stabling at the show grounds has become the norm at many shows, especially those that spread over multiple days. Before you fill out that entry blank (and check) to rent a 10’ x 10’, we have some tips and tricks for keeping you tied to the trailer instead of stuck in a stall.
Start by doing all of your show preparations in advance to make your show day run as smoothly as possible—without a stall to leave your horse in, you will need all of the free time you can get. One of the hard
est parts of not stabling at a show can be having your horse tie to or stand on the trailer quietly. “Practice tying your horse to the trailer and tacking up at home,” advises amateur eventer and budget-friendly blogger, Alison Kennedy. “You don’t want to wait until you get to the show to find out that your horse doesn’t tie or won’t stand still.” Kennedy also suggests pre-registering for classes. “The less time you spend in the show office, the better, and if you can’t pre-register, get a copy of the class list and choose your classes ahead of time.”
Pack The Essentials
Packing a few days early will give you time to make sure you have everything you will need, but write a list to reference before, during, and after you pack. Check the list as you put things in the trailer and refer back to it if you have that dreaded “I forgot something” feeling. This saves you from running around the morning of because you can’t remember if you packed a hoofpick or your bridle. While you are making your packing list, be sure to include all of the necessary items that you will need—not just your tack and show outfit.
Once you have everything packed, you will probably find that some of the items need to be on hand and your pockets just aren’t big enough. Kennedy suggests using a backpack to put the necessities in so you can easily carry them around the show grounds. “It’s a great way to keep everything organized while keeping your hands free,” she says. “My ring bag usually has fly spray, a brush, a rag, extra gloves, spurs, a snack, sunscreen, Gatorade, water, treats, and extra safety pins for numbers.”
Take Care of Your Horse
Your horse will need to stay fed and hydrated throughout the day, so make sure to pack extra food and water as well as buckets and hay nets. If you have a horse that is picky about water, be prepared with a few five-gallon jugs to fill before you leave the barn. Brenna MacLeod, Preliminary level NAJYRC 1* Young Rider team hopeful and working student, says, “Water containers are something I would never leave home without. It can get really hot, so it helps to always know you have water [for washing and drinking]. It takes out the extra hassle of carrying water buckets from across the show grounds.” She also has a trick for keeping drinking and washing buckets separate. “Have one color for each and have a few of each kind,” she says. “When it’s noon and there are still horses to ride, you won’t have to stress about not having enough water for the next horse because there are a bunch of full wash buckets.”
Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to forget about yourself when you have classes to show in and a horse to tend to. Staying hydrated and fed, especially on hot days, is an important part of showing. Kennedy suggests bringing a cooler and filling it with water and healthy snacks to keep you running. “Horse show food is expensive and usually greasy. If you bring your own, you know exactly what you’re going to get,” she says.
Once you are at the show, be conscious of where all your supplies are and keep your trailer clean. MacLeod suggests using your down time to clean up. “Whenever you have free time, reorganize everything so you’re not scrabbling to find your gloves or scissors right before you have to get on. A clean, organized trailer means happy, stress-free horses and riders.”
Stay On Time
No one likes that frantic trot to the ring at the last minute because they called your class. On the other hand, horse shows are a notorious game of “hurry up and wait,” and waiting for the last rider to finally make her way to the ring is just as frustrating. Buy an inexpensive digital watch and keep it on you until you go into the ring. “You can’t always have your phone on you, so wearing a watch makes it much easier to stay on top of the time,” says Kennedy. If you do prefer your phone, be prepared to bring an extra battery pack in case it dies mid-day.
Bring a Friend
Sometimes we just don’t have enough hands to do everything on show day. While we can’t clone ourselves, bringing along a friend for some help is the next best thing. For someone who is only showing one horse, Kennedy recommends having a helpful friend tag along until you get the hang of showing out of your trailer. “Plus, if you bring a friend, then you’ll have someone to run back to the trailer for you when you inevitably forget your number,” she says. “Trust me, it happens.” If you are managing multiple horses like MacLeod, help will be even more appreciated. “I definitely need extra help on the day of the show. Everything is constantly moving and horses are always in the rings so I need as many hands as I can get,” she says.
An added bonus—friends are great for snapping that perfect show-ring photo and celebrating when you walk out with the blue ribbon (which with these tips, we know you will).